Owsei Temkin (1902-2002) as a neurohistorian

Brown University Program in Neurosurgery, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
samuel_greenblatt AT brown.edu

Owsei Temkin of Johns Hopkins was one of the most preeminent historians of medicine in the 20th century. His scholarly work covered a wide variety of subjects and periods in the history of medicine, but he had a particular relationship to the history of the neurosciences because his first major monograph, The Falling Sickness, was about epilepsy. This presentation will be in three parts:

  1. A short biographical sketch - to allow the audience to understand Temkin's background and accomplishments;
  2. A discussion of the contents of The Falling Sickness (1945, 2ed.1971) and his other publications (papers) related to neurohistory. A very brief survey of Temkin's other major work will also be given;
  3. A more detailed historical description and discussion will be devoted to Temkin's election to the (American) National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 1978 - a most unusual honor for some one who was not a traditional scientist. When he had to choose a section for his membership, he chose Neurobiology, largely because so much of his early reputation derived from The Falling Sickness. His election also brings to light the short-lived existence of the Temporary Nominating Group for the History and Philosohphy of Science (1976-1979) in the NAS.

Session III
Friday, 23 June 2006, 9.30 - 10.00 am

11th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN)

Pavia, Italy, 2006