<B>A gifted scholar's farewell</B>When Stephen Jay Gould was five years old, his father took him to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Frightened and fascinated by the sight of a 20-foot dinosaur's skeleton, the boy announced that he was going to be a paleontologist when he grew up. Before succumbing to cancer last year at 60, Gould had become perhaps the world's most famous evolutionary biologist since Charles Darwin. Now comes, posthumously, his final legacy, <B>The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister's Pox: Mending the Gap Between Science and the Humanities</B>.
The curious title can be traced to Archilochus, an ancient Greek soldier-poet, who wrote: "The fox devises many strategies; the hedgehog knows one great and effective strategy," leading Gould to metaphorically derive pluralism (the fox) and single-mindedness (the hedgehog) as contrasting approaches to healing the age-old conflict between science and the humanities. He prescribes a conjunction of the two "so that we can all work together for the best of humanity." Over the course of his wide-ranging but pertinent observations, he calls Galileo a frightfully undiplomatic hothead, bemoans college students' abysmal ignorance of Shakespeare and the Bible, and says that Mickey Mantle was the best drag bunter in baseball. This heavyweight work sure to delight and challenge the intellectual community comes from a writer who refused to dumb down his material. Even the slightest inaccuracy resulting from oversimplification "destroys integrity and places an author upon a slippery slope of no return," Gould once wrote. Two of his other books, <I>The Panda's Thumb</I>, a National Book Award winner, and <I>The Mismeasure of Man</I>, which earned the National Book Critics Circle Award, helped him to attain ranking with Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov as America's most widely acclaimed popularizers of science. His last work is a scholarly farewell from one of the most gifted thinkers of this or any other generation.