Bucharest Colloquium in Early Modern Science 2016


Sunday, 23rd of October

19:00 Welcoming cocktail (Casa Universitarilor, Dionisie Lupu 46)


Monday, 24th of October (IRH-ICUB, Dimitrie Brandza 1)

09:15-09:30 Opening Address

09:30-10:30 Keynote lecture: Florike Egmond (Leiden University), The rise of fieldwork as an investigative method in the natural sciences of the 16th century

10:30-10:45 Coffee break

10:45-11:30 Raz Chen-Morris (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Reading, Observing and the Making of Knowledge: The Case of Kepler’s Optics

11:30-12:30 Keynote lecture: Iordan Avramov (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences), Friendly Jokes, Stinging Irony, and Bitter Sarcasm: Varieties of Humor in the Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg

12:30-14:00 Lunch break

14:00-14:45 Dolores Irizzo (University College London), The Origins of Experimental Philosophy and Bacon’s Medical ‘Histories of Man’ at the Royal Society 1663-1750

14:45-15:00 Coffee break

15:00-15:45 Monica Ugaglia(Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa), The First Experimental Treatise on Magnetism

15:45-16:30 Laura Georgescu (Ghent University), Instruments, phenomena and the practice of “magnetical philosophy”

16:30-16:45 Coffee break

16:45-17:30 Sorana Corneanu (University of Bucharest), Science and the Art of Thinking

17:30-18:30 Keynote lecture: Andreas Blank (University of Paderborn & Bard College, Berlin), Confessionalization and Early Modern Natural Philosophy

19:30 Dinner


Tuesday, 25 Oct. 2016 (IRH-ICUB, Dimitrie Brandza 1)

09:45-10:45 Keynote lecture: Gideon Manning (Claremont Graduate University), Mixed Signals: Descartes’s Nerves, Regius’s Slugs, and the Origins of ‘Experimental Philosophy’

10:45-11:00 Coffee break

11:00-11:45 Fabrizio Baldassarri (Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv), Mechanizing the vegetative soul. Descartes and Digestion

11:45-12:30 Balint Kekedi (University of Aberdeen), The Linguistic Model of Perceptual Cognition and the Role of the Passions in Cartesian Natural Automata

12:30-14:00 Lunch break

14:00-14:45 Sandra Bihlmaier (Karslruher Institute of Technology), Philipp Melanchthon on Argumentation and Style: Dialectics and Rhetorics as the Tools of Clear Reasoning

14:45-15:00 Coffee break

15:00-16:00 Keynote lecture: Raphaële Garrod (CRASSH and Newnham College, University of Cambridge), Natural History in Early Modern France: The Poetics of an Epistemic Genre?

18:00 Conference Dinner


Wednesday, 26 Oct. 2016 (IRH-ICUB, Dimitrie Brandza 1 and Faculty of Philosophy, Splaiul Independentei 204)

09:45-10:45 Keynote lecture: Arianna Borrelli (Technical University Berlin), The rare and the dense in Bernardino Telesio’s meteorology

10:45-11:00 Coffee break

11:00-11:45 Kirsten Walsh (University of Nottingham), Newton’s Corpuscular Scaffolding

11:45-12:30 Cornelis J. Schilt (University of Oxford), Navigating the Continuum Isaac Newton’s many Ways of Knowing

12:30-14:00 Lunch break

14:00-14:45 Doina-Cristina Rusu (University of Groningen), Francis Bacon on the interactions between pneumatic and tangible matter

14:45-15:00 Coffee break

15:00-15:45 Mihnea Dobre (University OF Bucharest), Ways of connecting Bacon and Descartes: Medicine and Experimentation

15:45-16:30 Oana Matei (University of Bucharest and Vasile Goldis University of Arad), Perception of plants: Ralph Austen’s appetitive matter theory

16:30-16:45 Coffee break

16:45-17:30 Dana Jalobeanu (University of Bucharest), Francis Bacon on the “power of perception”

17:30-18:00 Coffee break

18:00-19:00 CELFIS/ Keynote lecture: Mordechai Feingold (California Institute of Technology), Who Was the Experimental Philosopher? Reflections on the Origins of Practice

19:30 Dinner

Baconian Themes in Natural and Moral Philosphy

Invited speakers: Peter Anstey (University of Sydney & University of Bucharest), Sorana Corneanu (University of Bucharest), Mihnea Dobre (University of Bucharest), Dana Jalobeanu (University of Bucharest), Silvia Manzo (University of La Plata & Technical University Berlin)

Organizer: Doina-Cristina Rusu (University of Bucharest), dc.rusu@yahoo.com



9:30-10:00 – Coffee and Welcoming address

10:00-11:00 – Silvia Manzo, Natural Philosophy, jurisprudence and laws of nature in Francis Bacon

11:00-12:00 – Dana Jalobeanu, Reconstructing Francis Bacon’s natural history: Sylva Sylvarum in the seventeenth century

12:00 -12:30 – Coffee break

12:30-13:30 – Mihnea Dobre, Bacon, Descartes and “the new science”

13:30-15:00 – Lunch break

15:00-16:00 – Peter Anstey, Hume’s experimental moral philosophy

16:00-17:00 – Sorana Corneanu, Genius and Experiment: Echoes of the Sylva in the Later Eighteenth Century

17:00-17:30 – Concluding remarks

18:30 – Dinner


 Location: Seminar Room, Institute for Research in the Humanities,

University of Bucharest, 1 Dimitrie Brandza Street


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CELFIS Seminar – Second Semester

CELFIS 2015-2016

Weekly research seminar in Logic, History and Philosophy of Science

Wednesday 18-20, Titu Maiorescu Amphitheater, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest

 Second semester

2 March: Cristi Stoica (Horia Hulubei Institute, University of Bucharest), Do we live in a mathematical structure?

9 March: Peter Anstey (Sydney University), John Locke on the Standardization of Length

16 March: Vincenzo de Risi (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science Berlin), Proving an Axiom qua Axiom. On the mathematical epistemology of Gerolamo Saccheri and the discovery of non-Euclidean geometry

23 March: Tinca Prunea-Bretonnet (University of Bucharest), Evidence, certainty, consent. Rethinking central methodological notions within the Berlin Academy

30 March: Lavinia Marin (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), From the Textual to the Digital University

6 April: Michael Hunter (Birbeck College, London), The Enlightenment Rejection of Magic: Sceptics and their Milieux in Eighteenth-century England

13 April: Martin Lenz (University of Groningen), Intersubjectivity in Early Modern Philosophy: Spinoza on the Division of Cognitive Labour

19 April (extra CELFIS seminar): Andrew Irvin (University of British Colombia), Two Theories of Academic Freedom

20 April: Alexandra Parvan (University of Pitesti), Metaphysical Care: Ontology of disease and Ontology of the Patient

27 April: Laura Georgescu (Ghent University), Retrospectiveness and prospectiveness in experimentation

 11 May: Ilinca Damian (University of Bucharest), Inventions and representations. The break between art and science

18 May: Alberto Vanzo (University of Warwick) Leibniz on Innate Ideas and Kant on the Origin of the Categories

25 May: Ovidiu Babes (University of Bucharest & Vasile Goldis University, Arad), On the shift of geometrical problem solving: Descartes and some of this precursors


For information please contact Dana Jalobeanu (dana.jalobeanu@celfis.ro) or Doina-Cristina Rusu (dc.rusu@yahoo.com)

CFP Matter and Perception (Early Science and Medicine)

Call for Papers: “Matter and Perception”

Special Issue of Early Science and Medicine


Early Science and Medicine is seeking contributions for a special issue on “Matter and Perception”

Guest editors: Michael Deckard and Doina-Cristina Rusu

Deadline: 1st of August 2016


The origins of thinking about matter in early modern Europe did not begin with Francis Bacon, René Descartes, or Anne Conway, but these thinkers formulated systems of matter that replaced Aristotelian form. The characteristics of matter began to be measured, studied, observed, anatomized, or imbued with life, essentially replacing form as an explanatory principle. This development in the history of philosophy, science and culture has been told in different ways, depending on from what perspective the story is based. One way of telling it is to look at the English experimental background starting with Bacon and continuing through Boyle, Newton, and the Royal Society. Another story could be told through the Cartesian development of causation, continuing through Malebranche and Hume. Still another might look at the roots of vitalism. Whether with regards to the senses, sympathy, electricity, gravity, or magnetism, this special issue seeks papers concerning the roots of the relation between matter and perception.


Early Science and Medicine (ESM) is a peer-reviewed international journal dedicated to the history of science, medicine and technology from the earliest times through to the end of the eighteenth century. The need to treat in a single journal all aspects of scientific activity and thought to the eighteenth century is due to two factors: to the continued importance of ancient sources throughout the Middle Ages and the early modern period, and to the comparably low degree of specialization and the high degree of disciplinary interdependence characterizing the period before the professionalization of science. The journal, which concerns itself mainly with the Western, Byzantine and Arabic traditions, is particularly interested in emphasizing these elements of continuity and interconnectedness, and it encourages their diachronic study from a variety of viewpoints, including commented text editions and monographic studies of historical figures and scientific questions or practices. The main language of the journal is English, although contributions in French and German are also accepted.


For Guidelines to Contributors click here.

For further information on Early Science and Medicine, see http://www.brill.com/early-science-and-medicine

Please send your contribution by the 1st of August 2016 to Doina-Cristina Rusu at dc.rusu@yahoo.com

CELFIS 2015-2016

Weekly research seminar in Logic, History and Philosophy of Science

Wednesday 18-20, Titu Maiorescu Amphitheater, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest

 First semester


7 October –Rob Iliffe (University of Sussex), The Newton Project as a solution to the problem of intellectual coherence

14 October – Round table discussion on the book:Psihologia poporului roman, by Daniel David

Invited speakers: Daniel David (Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj), Cosima Rughiniș (University of Bucharest), Ruxandra Ivan (University of Bucharest), Radu Umbreș (SNSPA). Moderator: Sorin Costreie (University of Bucharest)

21 October – Kirsten Walsh (Institute for Research in Humanities, University of Bucharest), Newton as a Modeller

28 October – Fabrizio Baldassari (Institute for Research in Humanities, University of Bucharest), How much living bodies fit Descartes’ natural philosophy. The role of botany

4 November – Daniel Garber (Princeton University), “History not so faithful, as might have been wish’d”: Bacon, Error, and the Royal Society

11 November – F. A. Meschini (Università del Salento),  De L’Homme à la Description du corps humain: sur les traces du parcours du chyle. Descartes et la digestion

18 November – Delphine Bellis (Radboud University Nijmegen), Nos in Diem Vivimus: Gassendi’s Probabilism and Academic Philosophy from Day to Day

25 November – Constantin C Brincus (University of Bucharest), The Nature of Logical Principles

2 December – Adrian Currie (University of Calgary), Hot Blooded Gluttons: Coherence & Method in Historical Science

9 December – Ciprian Jeler (Institute for Research in Humanities, University of Bucharest), On some recent ambiguities of the concept of “group selection” in philosophy of biology

16 December – Sorin Bangu (University of Bergen), Methodological Remarks on the Experiments on Infants’ Mathematical Abilities

6 January – Michael Deckard (Lenoir-Rhyne University/University of Bucharest), Two Cultures Interweaving: Art and Science in Mendelssohn’s Letters on Sentiments

13 January – Divna Manolova (Institute for Research in Humanities, University of Bucharest), Theodore Metochites and Nikephoros Gregoras on philomatheia and polymatheia

20 January – Alette Fleischer (Amsterdam University), Nature, Knowledge and Networks: Exchanging and examining local and exotic plants in 17th century Holland

CFP Bucharest Colloquium in Early Modern Science

November 6-7, 2015
Institute for Research in the Humanities, University of Bucharest
& The Center for Logic, History and Philosophy of Science, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest

Invited speakers:
Daniel Garber (Princeton University)
Paul Lodge (University of Oxford)
Arianna Borrelli (Technical University, Berlin)

We invite papers by established and young scholars (including doctoral students) on any aspects of early modern philosophy/early modern science. Abstracts no longer than 500 words, to be sent to Doina-Cristina Rusu (dc.rusu@yahoo.com ) by September 10.  Authors will be notified by September 15.

Contacts: Dana Jalobeanu (dana.jalobeanu@celfis.ro) and Doina-Cristina Rusu (dc.rusu@yahoo.com)

Dana Jalobeanu spent five weeks at Max Planck Institute for History of Science, Berlin, working on a project on Giovan Battista della Porta and Francis Bacon on philosophical instruments and experimental trials. See https://www.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/en/staff/members/djalobeanu.

This research project aims to investigate the complex and creative ways in which Francis Bacon read and used Della Porta’s Magia naturalis as a sourcebook of problems, questions and suggestions for developing sophisticated experimental trials. It looks more particularly at the various ways in which Bacon transformed and manipulated Della Porta’s recipes and technologies, by integrating them in experimental series and by subsuming them to (different) theoretical questions. The aim of this investigation is to show that Bacon’s rewriting of Della Porta’s recipes contain a supplementary layer of methodological considerations leading to a better visualization of the phenomenon under investigation.

CELFIS Seminar – Second semester

18 februarie: Alexandru Dragomir (University of Bucharest), Edgington’s Verificationist Thesis in an Epistemic Temporal Framework

25 februarie: Cristi Stoica  (Institutul de Fizica Horia Hulubei), Singularities: tears in the fabric of space-time?

4 martie: Tzuchien Tho (Institute for Research in Humanities, University of Bucharest), Efficient and final causality in the development of Leibniz’s dynamics

11 Martie: Silviu Velica (Universitatea din Bucuresti), The Monty Hall problem in Independence-Friendly Logic

18 Martie: Sorana Corneanu (University of Bucharest) Temperaments and virtues: the care of the mind in late Renaissance medico-philosophical contexts

1 Aprilie: Horia Roman Patapievici (University of Bucharest), Structura cosmologiei lui Dante. Modul de constructie

8 aprilie: Sven Dupre (Max Planck Institute), Secrets and Experiments: Della Porta’s Optics between Reading and Doing 

29 aprilie: Alexandra Ion (Institute of Anthropology “Francisc I. Rainer” & University of Bucharest), Collecting human bodies: early 20th century anthropological knowledge as a culture of visualisation.

6 mai: prof. Gorun Manolescu (Politehnica Bucuresti) “Mihai Draganescu: O noua paradigma a informatiei”

13 mai: Iovan Drehe (Academia Romana, Filiala Iasi), Dialectica ca dar divin: de la Platon la Bacon

20 mai:mEd Slowick (University of Wynona) TBA

CELFIS Seminar

1 October: Miklos Redei (London School of Economics),John von Neumann: the power of mathematics and the moral responsibility of scientists’

8 October: Mihnea Dobre (Universitatea din Bucuresti), ‘Filosofia experimentala a secolului al XVII-lea si experimentalismul cartezian’

15 October: Radu Ioanicioiu (Departamentul de Fizica Teoretica,
Institutul de fizica si inginerie nucleara Horia Hulubei)
, ‘Complementarity: from wave-particle duality to delayed-choice experiments’

22 October: Iordan Avramov (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences & NEC) ‘Rivers of Letters and Oceans of Print: The Many Book Roles of Henry Oldenburg, 1641-1677’

29 October: Angus Vine (University of Stirling), ‘Bacon and the Management of Knowledge

5 November: Charles Wolfe (University of Ghent), ‘From medicina mentis to materialist philosophy of mind: a problem of naturalization?’

12 November: Adriana Sora (University of Bucharest),  ‘Explicatia constiintei. Clarificări conceptuale’

17 noiembrie (seminar CELFIS exceptional): Sam Fletcher (MCMP) ‘The Topology of Intertheoretic Reduction’

19 November: Slobodan Perovic (University of Belgrade)  ‘Niels Bohr’s Complementarity and the Experimental Method’

26 November: Arianna Borrelli (Technical Univ. Berlin) ‘The search for “new physics” in today’s theoretical and experimental particle research: a philosophical and empirical study of physicists’ stances to speculative models’

3 December: Doina-Cristina Rusu (Academia Română Filiala Iași & Universitatea din București) ‘Gender issues in early modern science: books of secrets and their public’

10 December: Virgil Iordache (Universitatea din București) ‘O abordare a complexitatii problemei naturii si societatii’

15 ianuarie: Enrico Pasini (University of Pisa) ‘Leibniz between Platonism and Aristotelism’

21 ianuarie: Constantin C. Brîncuș (Romanian Academy, Iasi Branch) ‘The Epistemic Significance of Valid Inference – A Model-Theoretic Approach’

From Natural History to Natural Magic: Francis Bacon’s “Sylva sylvarum” – PhD dissertation

My dissertation “From Natural History to Natural Magic: Francis Bacon’s Sylva sylvarum,” draws attention to a posthumously published and neglected book by Francis Bacon, Sylva sylvarum or a Natural History in Ten Centuries. Because of its title, this work has generally been taken as belonging to the genre of natural history. This dissertation shows that Sylva mixes elements of natural history with those of physics, mechanics, metaphysics and 1466315_10200784446793912_901050667_nnatural magic. Moreover, Sylva sylvarum has often been regarded as an imperfect natural history, because it looked like an amalgam of observations, experiments and theoretical considerations on very different topics. Arguing once more against the prevalent view, this thesis tries to show that this work reflects Bacon’s model of how nature can and should be manipulated by the naturalist.
According to Bacon, the reform of the natural sciences must start with collecting natural histories, that is, with collecting facts about nature, through observing and experimenting. Natural philosophy has the task to theorize upon these histories in order to arrive at the principles behind the unity of nature. Physics – the first science of natural philosophy – begins to theorize upon them so as to discover the hidden processes of nature, which lie behind the visible phenomena. As for metaphysics – the second speculative discipline – it seeks a higher degree of abstraction. Mechanics and magic, the two operative sciences, in turn, apply the knowledge thus obtained and modify natural bodies, mechanics using the knowledge of physics and magic that of metaphysics. Physics investigates the hidden structures of bodies, from the viewpoint of their material and efficient causes. Metaphysics studies the formal causes of these schematisms, which are also called “forms.” As this dissertation proves, Bacon’s science works through a continuous interplay between theory formation and its verification in practice. This means that while speculative philosophy is composed by provisional rules and axioms, there are also different types of experiments, functioning at different levels of knowledge. It also means that magic can be performed before metaphysics has been completed, by testing its provisional axioms.
Chapter one offers an overview of the existing scholarship on Bacon’s natural philosophy. The aim of this chapter is to understand the status quaestionis and to show where further research is needed. The analysis of Sylva’s contents starting in chapter 2 shows that some of the negative judgements that have led to its general neglect are not warranted. Sure enough, its use of the vernacular, its lack of order, and the dispersion of its subject matters over many disciplines are certainly puzzling. This thesis argues that there is a methodological purpose behind these puzzles. Bacon used the vernacular and his method of presentation as a way of selecting his readers, in the sense that he aimed to reach those who could discern the unity behind the apparent diversity of nature reflected in separate experiments, and who could connect the instances presented in Sylva both with each other and with the theory and experiments provided in Bacon’s other works. While this viewpoint does not yield a possible secret order of the experiments, it does connect the lack of order with Bacon’s method for the transmission of knowledge.
By means of a comparison with the Latin natural histories that Bacon had published during his lifetime, we find in Sylva falls only in a small part under the definition of a natural history: we find descriptions of facts, interventionist experiments, advice for further experimentation, pieces of theoretical considerations, axioms, medical receipts, and instances of natural divination or spiritual magic. All these instances are also found in the Latin natural histories, under their proper designations and they rise Sylva at the level of those histories he “kept for himself” and wrote for the Instauratio magna.
Chapter three focuses on a specific group of experiments, namely those used in the production of knowledge. It proposes a classification of these experiments into six classes. The accent is put on the last three classes of experiments, which are are proper “experiments of light.” The first of them studies the changes a body undergoes during a process. These experiments not only provide the basis for further experimentation, but they can be tabulated, just like the famous experiments reported in the Novum organum or in the Historia densi et rari. Because some of these changes cannot be observed directly by the experimenter, and the only way in which they can be made observable is with the help of specially designed instruments, another type of experiments is needed. They are particularly important, as they provide insight into what is happening at the level of the hidden activity of matter. The last class of experiments, finally, uses simplified models and then transfers the knowledge obtained to modify more complex classes of objects. In order for this transfer to be done, very strong metaphysical assumptions are needed. Bacon bases this transfer upon his matter theory, considering that there exists a fundamental set of entities and of activities that are everywhere the same.
This use of simplified models is analysed at length in chapter four: plants are simplified models of animals and human beings. Many of these experiments are taken from Della Porta’s Magia naturalis and this has incidentally been taken as proofs that the Sylva sylvarum is above all a collection of experiments copied from literary sources. A detailed comparison of the reports on plants in the Sylva and the Magia naturalis shows, however, how critical, original and creative Bacon was in using his sources. The major changes Bacon introduces into Della Porta’s instances are the generalisation according to his matter theory and the addition of explanatory causes also in terms of matter theory. This dissertation also brings into light a new source of Sylva – Hugh Platt’s Floraes Paradise. Platt’s book is in fact Bacon’s second major source for the experiments with plants. In more than one case, Platt’s experimental reports are used to reject Della Porta’s “fantastical” theories. While Della Porta remains the most important source for Bacon, the latter’s willingness to reject certain experiments or theories reported in the Magia naturalis on the basis of Platt’s reports demonstrates that Bacon did not blindly copy his sources, but made a philosophically and experimentally informed choice.
Chapter five continues the comparison between Della Porta’s Magia naturalis and Bacon’s Sylva sylvarum, with an examination of their respective understanding of natural magic and the manipulation of nature. As is shown in this chapter, Bacon took Della Porta’s book to be about physics and mechanics (according to his own definition of these sciences), because they are bound to the knowledge and the modification of individual bodies. Bacon wished to take these experiments further in the service of the construction of a metaphysical theory and a truly magical manipulation of bodies, which required the knowledge and manipulation of “forms.”
The first part of this chapter deals with the redefinition of Bacon’s form of heat as given in the second book of the Novum organum. The form of heat can be influenced and induced on a given body by manipulating the basic appetites of matter. What the natural magician must do is to understand which appetite must be activated to which effect and how this can be achieved, so that in collaboration with the existing forms naturally occurring in a given body, a certain motion will be produced, which will induce the change of a simple nature in that body. Though mechanics and magic may sometimes produce the same changes in the bodies; magic, can, however, go further and create new things. This is possible because magic manipulates more fundamental entities of matter and the changes produced upon a body are greater. It is precisely in this understanding of the natural magician and the type of knowledge and of operations of which he is capable that the difference between Bacon and Della Porta lies. The latter possesses, at least in Bacon’s view, a superficial knowledge of the natural phenomena as well as of the artificial ones he produces. The implications of this difference show up not only in the central concept of magic itself, but also in Bacon’s and Della Porta’s respective understanding of the fundamental processes of nature, such vivification, transmutation or new species, analysed in the second part of the last chapter.
When one connects the features of magic, discussed in this chapter, with the evidence produced in the other chapters, the specific feature of Sylva becomes evident. As mentioned earlier, not all the “experiments” in Sylva are experiments of metaphysics or magic. Many of them remain at the level of descriptions of facts or simple experiments of natural history. Others are experiments of physics and mechanics. They contain explanations in terms of material and efficient causes or else superficial manipulations of bodies. However, a great number of experiments involve areas that for Bacon belong to metaphysics and magic. Sometimes it is necessary to connect different experiments in order to discover the profound knowledge they contain when combined. This intelligence and labour required for this combination was – or so I claim in this dissertation – how Bacon selected the readers by which he wished to be understood. With respect to our classification of experiments, provided in Chapter three, it is in the transit from the experiments studying changes of bodies during a process to those experiments rendering invisible processes visible that the experimenter enters the realm of natural philosophy. Depending on how deep he will delve in the process of his investigations, he can arrive at a provisional knowledge of forms. In the verification of these provisional rules – these axioms become rules once they are put in practice – if they turn out to work, natural magic is performed. An even clearer confirmation of these axioms is to be found when the rule is applied to objects not previously studied, as happens in the transfer from simple models to the complex subjects.
All in all, then, Sylva sylvarum can be read as an instruction booklet which provides models and instructions of how nature has to be investigated and transformed. Bacon saw his project as being far from complete. Still, he believed that science could advance if his investigations were imitated and advanced by others.

For the complete PDF version, please visit: https://unibuc.academia.edu/doinacristinarusu