World-makers: early modern philosophers and their cosmological projects

Oresme sfera elementala

Course given by: Dana Jalobeanu

Guest speakers: Kirsten Walsh (Institute for Research in Humanities, University of Bucharest), Michael Deckard (Fullbright Fellow, University of Bucharest)

Faculty of Philosophy

Splaiul Independentei 204

Wednesday from 2 pm (room Constantin Radulescu Motru)teniers

This is a third year optional course designed for the students following the module of theoretical philosophy (but other students, graduates or undergraduates are welcome to attend). The main aim of the course is to discuss the major figures, ideas and debates of the scientific revolution. We will focus on some of the important scientific and philosophical figures who contributed to the “scientific revolution” of the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Here are some of the questions we are going to ask: What does it mean to be a natural philosopher? Are there philosophical/scientific roles? Is natural philosophy a profession, a vocation or a (Christian) duty? How many competing philosophical roles there are?  Are they fundamentally different (say: the Aristotelian and the proponents of the “new” philosophy). Do all natural philosophers have something in common?P5151082

Our work hypothesis is that most of the proponents of the “new” natural philosophy (early modern science) were world-makers: they aimed to replace the traditional view of the universe; they aimed to reform the received knowledge, and sometimes also the received social and intellectual roles of knowledge makers. Our discussion will focus on some primary texts. We will especially look for how natural philosophers reflected on their public role when engaging in “world-making.” What did they claim they were doing? How did they justify the attempt to replace the “old, received view of the world” with a “new philosophy”?

The course will consist of one hour lecture and three hours of seminar. Course and seminars will mainly consist of discussions. Each meeting will concentrate on two readings: a primary source and a secondary source (supplementary reading material can be found in the associated folder in the common drop-box).kepler_chart

Each seminar will begin with a 20 minutes presentation of an author/representative figure of the scientific revolution and will continue with a discussion of the texts. Students are required to write and prepare such presentations (ppt. also required), trying to set the required readings in a historical context aiming to facilitate de understanding.

 

Course syllabus

 

Date Course and seminars Readings
07.10 Introduction: From the Scientific Revolution to the “scientific revolutions”: historiographical debates. Natural philosophy and early modern science. The iconic figures of the scientific revolution.

 

14.10 The cloister and the university: the received view of the world (I)

 

14.10 Seminar: Historiographical biases and the access to the primary sources

 

B.J.T. Dobbs, “The Janus Faces of Genius”
21.10 Teaching and learning natural philosophy in the traditional setting. What is natural philosophy before the scientific revolution?
21.10 The cloister and the university: the received view of the world (II)

Seminar

Reisch, Margarita philosophica (translation and commentary by Cunningham and Kusukawa)
28.10 The public life and the contemplative ideal of knowledge: Francis Bacon

 

28.10 Seminar: Francis Bacon

 

Francis Bacon, New Atlantis (also: Bacon’s letter to Launcelot Andrewes on Seneca, Demosthene and Cicero).
04.11 The Renaissance “mathematician” and the “new world:” Astronomy, astrology and practical mathematics from Copernicus to Kepler

 

Secondary reading:

Omodeo, Chapter 2

 

04.11 Seminar: Johannes Kepler Kepler, Astronomia nova, Introduction
11.11 Teaching the new science, from the university to the court: Galileo Galilei, mathematician and/or philosopher

 

Secondary reading: Biagioli, Galileo’s instruments of credit, Introduction, Chapter 1

Supplementary reading:

11.11 Seminar: Galileo Galilei Galileo Galilei, Dialogue on the two new world systems, Day 1
18.11 Natural magic and experimental philosophy: Giovan Battista della Porta and William Gilbert

 

Giovan Battista della Porta, Natural Magic, introduction (the course will be organized as a reading group too!!)
18.11 Seminar: William Gilbert, experimental philosophy and cosmology William Gilbert, De magnete, book VI, ch. 1-3

Secondary reading: Freudenthal, Gilbert’s cosmology

Suppementary reading: Gatti, Giordano Bruno and the Renaissance Science, chapter IV (Bruno and Gilbert’s group)

 

24.11 The Christian virtuoso and the new science in England. Robert Boyle and the early Royal Society

 

24.11 Seminar: Robert Boyle, Christian virtuoso Boyle, Christian virtuoso
02.12 The first “professional”: Robert Hooke’s experimental philosophy and the Royal Society
02.12 Seminar: Robert Hooke Hooke, Micrographia (Preface)

Hooke,  A general scheme…

09.12 World makers: Descartes and Newton
09.12 Seminar: Descartes and Newton Descartes, Le Monde (chapters 1, 6, 7)

Newton, De gravitatione

16.12 The private and the public face of the natural philosopher: Newton

 

16.12 Seminar Newton Dibner Ms 1031 b

Hypothesis on Light

06.01 Utopia and the Royal Society: Oldenburg, Evelyn, Wilkins, Beale on the reformation of knowledge, the advancement of learning and various utopian ‘scientific’ projects

 

Secondary reading: Lynch, Solomon’s Child
06.01 Seminar on the utopian plans of the FRS Henry Oldenburg – correspondence

RH – the continuation of New Atlantis

Cowley – the plan for organizing Royal Society

13.01 Communicators and promoters of the new science. The public face of science

 

13.01 Women philosophers
20.01 Colloquium

 

Assignments

Seminar presentation: introduce the author (30% of the evaluation)

The seminar will begin with a 20 min presentation of the author whose text is under discussion. Students are required to choose one author and to prepare such a presentation, focusing on the context of the text for the seminar and the relevant details for its understanding. In introducing an author it is important to emphasize what was his/her general plan/project and how does our reading relate to that more general plan. Also, I would like to know more about the intellectual context in which our author’s ideas have developed, about his intellectual sources, friends and foes, about his successes (in his own time: was he read? Did he have students and followers?) and failures (What did he hoped to achieve? How much did he manage to do? What prevented him to do more?  How did he/she reflect on the causes of his/her failure?). Try to reconstruct a portrait as free as possible from the various biases of the various historiographies.

 

Analyze a primary source (from the bibliography) (30% of the evaluation)

Write a 4-6 pages ‘introduction’ to a primary source from the bibliography. Explain its main ideas, define its terms, place it in the context (among the author’s other writings, for example), provide the reader with the appropriate footnotes (definitions, explanations of terms, references to the background etc.) and the running commentary that would help her understand the text better. Show at what points in your analysis the reader might benefit from reading secondary literature and why. What are the difficult problems this text is posing? What kind of problems are they? (terminological, conceptual, contextual, interpretative) What do we need in order to solve them?  Draft a list of questions and a bibliography which might help the reader solve some of these questions.

 

Discuss secondary literature referring to a primary source (30 % of the evaluation)

Select and discuss two secondary sources referring to the author/primary source you have worked on. Use the bibliography and ask for help when you need it.

Date Course and seminars Readings
07.10 Introduction: From the Scientific Revolution to the “scientific revolutions”: historiographical debates. Natural philosophy and early modern science. The iconic figures of the scientific revolution.

 

14.10 The cloister and the university: the received view of the world (I)

 

14.10 Seminar: Historiographical biases and the access to the primary sources

 

B.J.T. Dobbs, “The Janus Faces of Genius”
21.10 Teaching and learning natural philosophy in the traditional setting. What is natural philosophy before the scientific revolution?
21.10 The cloister and the university: the received view of the world (II)

Seminar

Reisch, Margarita philosophica (translation and commentary by Cunningham and Kusukawa)
28.10 The public life and the contemplative ideal of knowledge: Francis Bacon

 

28.10 Seminar: Francis Bacon

 

Francis Bacon, New Atlantis (also: Bacon’s letter to Launcelot Andrewes on Seneca, Demosthene and Cicero).
04.11 The Renaissance “mathematician” and the “new world:” Astronomy, astrology and practical mathematics from Copernicus to Kepler

 

Secondary reading:

Omodeo, Chapter 2

 

04.11 Seminar: Johannes Kepler Kepler, Astronomia nova, Introduction
11.11 Teaching the new science, from the university to the court: Galileo Galilei, mathematician and/or philosopher

 

Secondary reading: Biagioli, Galileo’s instruments of credit, Introduction, Chapter 1

Supplementary reading:

11.11 Seminar: Galileo Galilei Galileo Galilei, Dialogue on the two new world systems, Day 1
18.11 Natural magic and experimental philosophy: Giovan Battista della Porta and William Gilbert

 

Giovan Battista della Porta, Natural Magic, introduction (the course will be organized as a reading group too!!)
18.11 Seminar: William Gilbert, experimental philosophy and cosmology William Gilbert, De magnete, book VI, ch. 1-3

Secondary reading: Freudenthal, Gilbert’s cosmology

Suppementary reading: Gatti, Giordano Bruno and the Renaissance Science, chapter IV (Bruno and Gilbert’s group)

 

24.11 The Christian virtuoso and the new science in England. Robert Boyle and the early Royal Society

 

24.11 Seminar: Robert Boyle, Christian virtuoso Boyle, Christian virtuoso
02.12 The first “professional”: Robert Hooke’s experimental philosophy and the Royal Society
02.12 Seminar: Robert Hooke Hooke, Micrographia (Preface)

Hooke,  A general scheme…

09.12 World makers: Descartes and Newton
09.12 Seminar: Descartes and Newton Descartes, Le Monde (chapters 1, 6, 7)

Newton, De gravitatione

16.12 The private and the public face of the natural philosopher: Newton

 

16.12 Seminar Newton Dibner Ms 1031 b

Hypothesis on Light

06.01 Utopia and the Royal Society: Oldenburg, Evelyn, Wilkins, Beale on the reformation of knowledge, the advancement of learning and various utopian ‘scientific’ projects

 

Secondary reading: Lynch, Solomon’s Child
06.01 Seminar on the utopian plans of the FRS Henry Oldenburg – correspondence

RH – the continuation of New Atlantis

Cowley – the plan for organizing Royal Society

13.01 Communicators and promoters of the new science. The public face of science

 

13.01 Women philosophers
20.01 Colloquium

 

Assignments

Seminar presentation: introduce the author (30% of the evaluation)

The seminar will begin with a 20 min presentation of the author whose text is under discussion. Students are required to choose one author and to prepare such a presentation, focusing on the context of the text for the seminar and the relevant details for its understanding. In introducing an author it is important to emphasize what was his/her general plan/project and how does our reading relate to that more general plan. Also, I would like to know more about the intellectual context in which our author’s ideas have developed, about his intellectual sources, friends and foes, about his successes (in his own time: was he read? Did he have students and followers?) and failures (What did he hoped to achieve? How much did he manage to do? What prevented him to do more?  How did he/she reflect on the causes of his/her failure?). Try to reconstruct a portrait as free as possible from the various biases of the various historiographies.

 

Analyze a primary source (from the bibliography) (30% of the evaluation)

Write a 4-6 pages ‘introduction’ to a primary source from the bibliography. Explain its main ideas, define its terms, place it in the context (among the author’s other writings, for example), provide the reader with the appropriate footnotes (definitions, explanations of terms, references to the background etc.) and the running commentary that would help her understand the text better. Show at what points in your analysis the reader might benefit from reading secondary literature and why. What are the difficult problems this text is posing? What kind of problems are they? (terminological, conceptual, contextual, interpretative) What do we need in order to solve them?  Draft a list of questions and a bibliography which might help the reader solve some of these questions.

 

Discuss secondary literature referring to a primary source (30 % of the evaluation)

Select and discuss two secondary sources referring to the author/primary source you have worked on. Use the bibliography and ask for help when you need it.

 

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