Oana Matei is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bucharest and Western University “Vasile Goldiș,”Arad. As a PhD student she worked on ethics and politics and became more and more interested in the relations between the two in early modern Europe. Oana Matei finished her PhD in 2010, at the University of Bucharest, with a thesis on the relations between cynical philosophy and ethics in politics. In the past five years she focused her research on the study of natural and experimental history in the Hartlib Circle. So far, she has explored the way in which the Baconian theme of the advancement of learning has been used and transformed by Samuel Hartlib and the members of his Circle. She also has investigated some new and partially unexplored topics, such as the interest of the 17th century England for husbandry, cultivation, experiments with plants, and vegetable philosophy.
She joined the CNCS project From natural history to science: the emergence of experimental philosophy in 2013 and her research focus is on the way experimentation has been pursued by members of the Hartlib Circle, especially as it regards experiments with plants. Currently, she is working on some particular figures of the Hartlib Circle (such as Gabriel Plattes, Ralph Austen, and John Evelyn) trying to examine how members of the Hartlib Circle have been influenced by different traditions and how they develop particular styles of experimentation.
In 2013 Oana Matei published one paper, an analysis on one of the much quoted utopian projects of early modernity that very few people have actually read, namely A Description of the Famous Kingdome of Macaria (“Macaria, the Hartlib Circle, and Husbanding Creation”, Societate şi Politică (Society and Politics), vol. VII, nr. 2 (14), November 2013, ISSN: 1843-1348, special issue Letters by Early Modern Philosophers, coordinated by Filip Buyse). In the following year she worked on the relation between husbandry, cultivation, experiments with plants and a new concept developed by members of the Hartlib Circle, called “vegetable philosophy” (“Husbandry Tradition and the Emergence of Vegetable Philosophy in the Hartlib Circle”, Philosophia. International Journal of Philosophy, vol. 16/1(2015), ISSN: 2244-1875 (Print); ISSN 2244-1883 (Online), pp. 35-52).
In 2015 she has translated into Romanian some fragments of Thomas Tymme’s, The practise of chymicall, and hermeticall physicke and Gabriel Plattes’s, A discovery of infinite treasure. Currently, she is working on three papers. The first one is discussing Gabriel Plattes’s cosmology and theory of matter and how they provided him with a set of “general laws” acting as a framework for experimental methods and technologies. The second paper tries to relate Bacon’s experiments with plants in Sylva Sylvarum, century V and Ralph Austen’s own interpretation of these experiments exposed in a book published in 1658 and called Observations upon some part of Sr Francis Bacon’s Naturall History as it concerns, Fruit-trees, Fruits, and Flowers. The third paper will look into John Evelyn’s projects (especially those dedicated to tree cultivation) trying to identify some methodological aspects relevant for his experimental attempts and for his desire to gather natural histories of a “Baconian” kind.