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Rebel GeniusWarren S. McCulloch's Transdisciplinary Life in Science$
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Tara H. Abraham

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035095

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035095.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 02 July 2022

The Egalitarian Mentor

The Egalitarian Mentor

(p.75) 4 The Egalitarian Mentor
Rebel Genius

Tara H. Abraham

The MIT Press

This chapter contextualizes the 1943 paper by Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts on the logic of neural activity through McCulloch’s emerging institutional roles at the University of Illinois at Chicago—both in psychiatry research and as an egalitarian mentor. His performance of this identity at a crucial stage in his career facilitated his turn to the more clinical aspects of brain organization as well as his model-building practices, which converged in his rhetoric of providing a foundational basis for the ever-expanding discipline of psychiatry. The chapter discusses the role of the Rockefeller Foundation and of Nicolas Rashevsky’s group in mathematical biophysics at the University of Chicago as key institutional contexts for McCulloch’s work with Pitts. Rather than simply a precursor to later work in artificial intelligence, their work signified a burgeoning practice of applying mathematics and logic to problems in the biomedical sciences, as well as continued fluidity between science, medicine, and philosophy.

Keywords:   Mentoring in science, Illinois Neuropsychiatric Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago, mathematical biology, Nicolas Rashevsky, Walter Pitts, Jerome Y. Lettvin, neural networks

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