The Blazing Heart of Edward GrantIn 1960, as a junior faculty member, Edward Grant co-founded the Department. With his passing sixty years later, we have lost a true giant, the last survivor of those early days. Ed’s career as a scholar was brilliant, productive, and consequential for our understanding of the medieval origins of the scientific worldview. Likewise, as a teacher, mentor, and department-builder, he was equally distinguished as a servant-leader, unselfishly nurturing the intellectual talent of many individuals.
On January 1, 1990, I became the newest faculty member of the Department that was chaired by Ed. The historian wing consisted of Vic Thoren, Fred Churchill, and Sam Westfall, who had recently retired, and Ann Carmichael, who had a joint appointment with the History Department. The cadre of philosophers included Noretta Koertge, John Winnie, and Linda Wessels, to be augmented in the fall by Stephen Kellert and Zeno Swijtink. At the end of 1991, Ed retired, and the Department presented him with copies of his books, nearly a dozen, specially bound in fine red leather. He was pleased.
Retirement brought welcome relief from administrative chores, but Ed maintained his scholarly output and continued to attend the Department colloquium as well as social events. Every fall, during the reception for new students at a faculty house, Ed would give an informal lecture about the history of the Department. He never talked about his own role, but regaled us with spectacular tales of the other co-founder, philosopher of science Norwood Russell Hanson, who was a Golden Gloves boxer and World War II fighter pilot, acquiring doctorates from both Oxford and Cambridge. To illustrate his talk, Ed passed around documents, such as a vintage announcement of the IU Department of History and Logic of Science, and an airshow brochure featuring “The Flying Professor.”
With inevitable retirements, the passing years brought change to the Department that Ed had crafted. One by one, his colleagues earned emeritus wings, until I was the only active faculty member who had served with him. For thirty years, he was a valued mentor and colleague, and I treasured his warm friendship and essential support. Among the recipients of his unceasing care, I am forever grateful to have known Ed Grant—an unpretentious scholar who wore his deep erudition lightly, with his unmistakable voice grounded in the cadences of New York and glazed with Midwestern niceness, possessed by a blazing golden heart.
James H. Capshew