John Wesley Powell : science and reform in a positive context Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/x633f331x

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  • John Wesley Powell worked actively for public land system reform while a director of geographical and geological surveys in the West from 1869 to 1894. Although this has won him acclaim as a conservationist, the basis of Powell's linkage of reform with scientific work is poorly understood. A study of the intellectual aspects of Powell's survey work to about 1884 shows his linkage of science and reform had both practical and philosophical foundations. While working in the West Powell found applications of his geological and ethnological studies useful in treating problems that had arisen for settlement in the region. Powell's study of Indian culture reflected ethnologist Lewis Henry Morgan's emphasis on social organization. It taught Powell that the government's approach to Indian problems was ineffective because it misunderstood their social organization and their institutions. Powell emphasized physical aspects of the geological problems he studied. He focused on structure, on processes of upheaval and erosion, and on the historical record those agencies left in topography. Powell found this work provided geographical and other physical information useful in planning the large-scale irrigation systems that he believed were necessary for continued growth in the West. He also found his survey's work valuable for administrative and policy-making needs in the General Land Office. Powell's Report on the Lands of the Arid Region in 1878 reflected his advocacy of better and more systematic methods in classifying and surveying the public lands. It also keynoted his involvement in efforts to abolish the government's contract land survey system and replace it with a permanent system of geographical and geological surveys. Philosophical foundations for Powell's involvement in reform are revealed in his ideas on evolution. These combined L. H. Morgan's appreciation of cooperative social institutions with Herbert Spencer's view of evolution as an increasing differentiation and integration of matter. Human evolution for Powell was multidimensional and included intellectual, industrial, and institutional elements. Powell believed his survey's work for science and for land system reform was consistent with his evolutionary scheme. His intellectual heritage shows that he was acting out the commitment of nineteenth-century positivism to the empirical methods of science and to their use in achieving social progress.
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  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Patricia Black(patricia.black@oregonstate.edu) on 2013-07-29T16:52:41Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 ZernelJohnJoseph1983.pdf: 2231787 bytes, checksum: b84b4270400b0d528fef66449febd9c0 (MD5)
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  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Patricia Black(patricia.black@oregonstate.edu) on 2013-07-30T23:55:29Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 ZernelJohnJoseph1983.pdf: 2231787 bytes, checksum: b84b4270400b0d528fef66449febd9c0 (MD5)
  • description.provenance : Made available in DSpace on 2013-07-30T23:55:29Z (GMT). No. of bitstreams: 1 ZernelJohnJoseph1983.pdf: 2231787 bytes, checksum: b84b4270400b0d528fef66449febd9c0 (MD5) Previous issue date: 1983-03-15

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