William Jordy

William JordyIn hmolscience, William Jordy (1917-1997) was an American historian and architectural critic noted, in history thermodynamics, for his 1952 Henry Adams: Scientific Historian, wherein he delves into the physics, thermodynamics, and chemistry amid the philosophical work of Henry Adams.

In 1951, Jordy, in his “Two Temperaments in History: Scientific and Literary”, ventured into the Henry Adams oeuvre, mentioning his massive study of the Thomas Jefferson and James Madison administrations, his The Education of Henry Adams, and his mention of how “Henry Maine, Moses Tyler, John McLennan, Henry Buckle, Auguste Comte, and the various philosophers who, from time to time, stirred the scandal, and made it more scandalous”, according to which the scandal was that history presently was but storytelling and needed to become an experimental science. [3]

In 1952, Jordy, in his Henry Adams: Scientific Historian, is highly critical of American physical historian Henry Adams’ attempt to apply the laws of science, in particular the phase rule and the second law, to history. [1]

Commentators on Jordy's work on Adams include American historians Greg Myers and Keith Burich. [2]

Gibbs | Adams
Jordy, at one point, on the Willard Gibbs influence on Adams, devotes several pages to addressing what he refers to as the "myth linking Adams to Gibbs", in which he suggests that Adams learned of the phase rule, and in turn Gibbs, in the mid 1990s, from his friend Samuel P. Langley, the then director of the Smithsonian Institute, who had consulted Gibbs in preparing one of his early papers on aerodynamics. While this may be but spurious conjecture, Jordy does note that Adams did have a copy of 1906 edition British chemist Alexander Findlay's The Phase Rule and its Application (1904), and was making marginal notes in it.

The following are representative quotes:

“No mechanist, Adams was nevertheless nurtured on mechanistic physics, where every action had its corresponding reaction.”
— William Jordy (1952), Henry Adams: Scientific Historian (pg. 195)

1. Jordy, William H. (1952). Henry Adams: Scientific Historian (physics, 23+ pgs; thermodynamics, 22+ pgs; chemistry, 2+ pgs; Gibbs, pg. 168-71). Yale University Press.
2. (a) Myers, Greg. (1985). “Nineteenth-Century Popularizations of Thermodynamics and the Rhetoric of Social Prophecy. Victorian Studies, 29: 35-66.
(b) Burich, Keith R. (1987). “Henry Adams, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the Course of History” (abs). Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 48, No. 3 (Jul-Sep.), pp. 467-482.
3. Jordy, William H. (1951). “Two Temperaments in History: Scientific and Literary”, American Quarterly, 3(1), Spring; in: Symbolic Essence and Other Writings on Modern Architecture and American (§1:55-70). Yale University Press, 2005.

External links
William Jordy – Wikipedia.
Jordy, William H[enry] – Dictionary of Art Historians.
Jordy, William H. – WorldCat Identities.

TDics icon ns

More pages