John Murdoch

John Murdoch

(1927 - 2010)
Professor of the History of Science
John Murdoch

John Murdoch was a historian of ancient Greek and medieval Latin science and philosophy. In alternate years he gave a lecture course on one or the other of these periods in pre-modern science. Each year he directed a seminar on both of these ancient and medieval fields, the topics of which vary, in addition to an advanced seminar on medieval philosophy and science, and a seminar on the establishment of medieval Latin scientific texts.


Professor Murdoch was the author of Album of Science: Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1984). His publications in medieval science, mathematics, and philosophy include an article in The Cultural Context of Medieval Learning (D. Reidel, 1973), edited with Edith Sylla, and numerous articles on the transmission of Euclid's Elements. His particular interest was in the concepts of infinity, continuity, and limits throughout early science.


Murdoch received his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin in Philosophy, with a minor field in the History of Science, in 1957. He came to Harvard in that year and, after teaching three years at Princeton University, returned to Harvard in 1963.

In 2009, Murdoch was awarded the Sarton Medal by the History of Science Society, honoring a lifetime of scholarly achievement.

Obituary from The Harvard Gazette.