Scientific report 2013

Mid-term report

From natural history to science: the emergence of experimental philosophy (PN-II-ID-PCE-2011-3-0719)

Director of project: Dana Jalobeanu

Summary of major results:

After a year and a half, the team of our project submitted to publication 12 articles, 4 book chapters and two books. We have also edited and published four special issues of journals: Early Science and Medicine, Journal of Early Modern Studies and Society and Politics (2 issues) and we are preparing for publications two more special issues of Journal of Early Modern Studies and Society and Politics. Of the 12 articles submitted, 9 articles were already published (4 ISI and 5 BDI) and the other 3 were accepted for publication. 3 book-chapters will be published by the end of the year (in volumes published by Oxford University Press and University of Minnesota Press) and 1 was accepted for publication and will appear next year (in a volume published by Brill). The book by Doina Cristina Rusu was published by Radboud University, Nijmegen (the book represents her PhD jointly awarded by the Radboud University, Nijmegen and the University of Bucharest). The book by Dana Jalobeanu will also appear shortly at Zeta Books, Bucharest. Five more articles were submitted in August-September 2013 by Dana Jalobeanu, Oana Matei and Sebastian Mateiescu and are in the process of peer-revision. In addition, we have organized or co-organized 8 international workshops and colloquia. All in all, the members of our project took part in 23 international conferences, either with individual papers, or as members of international panels.

Extended report

During the past 20 months (January 2012-August 2013), our project faced important and sometimes unexpected changes. Among these, we list the change in the team structure (due to important accomplishments of individual members; we shall return to this immediately) and the structural changes due to the general budget cuts. In both cases, we faced the changes with the same general principles: aiming to stay connected to the international community of scholars working in the field. In 20 months, we have managed to put our project on the map: both our achievements and our blog are now part of wider discussions over the role and importance of Francis Bacon’s natural history. As a proof of this we can quote the following:

➨ the fact that our team co-organized a special event Princeton University – a 2 weekworkshop on Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum (see below)

➨ the fact that we have organized joint international panel discussions on our subject in 3 international conferences, with scholars from US, UK, France, Greece and Germany (special panels at the European Society for History of Science conference (Athens 2012), Scientiae 2013 (Warwick 2013) and the 3 Societies Conference (Philadelphia 2012))

➨ The fact that we have managed to put together two special issues on the arts of experimenting and the connections between natural history and natural magic (2 special issues of Journal of the Early Modern Studies) and an international panel for Scientiae 2014. We also plan to put together an international panel for HOPOS 2014.

We take all these international collaborations to mean a measure of our success. Meanwhile, we want to emphasize that we had to readjust our plans and cut some of the envisaged research stages, conferences and international collaborations because of the major budget cuts which have reduced our budget with more than a half. As a result, we had to drastically reorganize our team and change some of our most ambitious objectives.

We started with a team made of three researchers (Dana Jalobeanu, Mihnea Dobre, and Sebastian Mateiescu), three Ph.D. students (Laura Georgescu, Madalina Giurgea, and Doina-Cristina Rusu), and one M.A. student (Sandra Dragomir). During 2012, Laura Georgescu has obtained a full-tuition Ph.D. Scholarship awarded by the National Flemish Foundation and has enrolled in a new Ph.D. Programme at the University of Ghent, with a project on early modern experimental series (something she had begun while working with us in Bucharest). At the end of 2012, Sandra Dragomir also succeeded to enroll in graduate study in Bretten, following her research trip at Europaische Melanchthon Akademie (a research trip provided by this research grant); after completing one year of graduate studies her Ph.D. proposal was accepted and she will be a Ph.D. student of the University of Karlsruhe. We consider these two new Ph.D. projects as a measure of the success (and the international recognition) of the quality of our research program.

At the beginning of 2013, we have opened new positions and organized a novel competition. As a result, we began the year 2013 in the following team: four researchers (Dana Jalobeanu, Mihnea Dobre, Oana Matei, and Sebastian Mateiescu), one Ph.D. student (Doina-Cristina Rusu), and one M.A. student (Claudia Dumitru).

In August 2013 Doina-Cristina Rusu has completed her Ph.D. studies (a co-tutele between University of Bucharest and Radboud University Nijmegen, supervisors: Christoph Lüthy, Ilie Parvu, and Dana Jalobeanu) and submitted her thesis, entitled: From Natural History to Natural Magic: Francis Bacon’s ‘Sylva Sylvarum. The thesis was evaluated by the manuscript committee and was accepted for defense. The defense will take place at Radboud University Nijmegen, in 16th of December 2013. Prior to that, Doina Cristina Rusu’s thesis was published by Radboud University, Nijmegen.


Articles published in ISI and BDI journals:

1. Dobre, Mihnea. “On Glass-Drops: a Case Study of the Interplay Between Experimentation and Explanation in Seventeenth-Century Natural Philosophy.” Journal of Early Modern Studies, vol. 2, no. 1 (2013): 105–124.

2. Dobre, Mihnea. “Knowledge and Certainty in the Foundation of Cartesian Natural Philosophy.” Revue Roumaine de Philosophie, vol. 57, no. 1 (2013): 95–110.

3. Dumitru, Claudia. “Crucial Instances and Crucial Experiments in Bacon, Boyle, and Hooke.” Society and Politics, vol. 7, no. 1 (2013): 45-61.

4. Jalobeanu, Dana. “The Four Idols of Baconian Scholarship.” Procedia – Social and Behavioural Sciences 71 (2013): 123-30.

5. Jalobeanu, Dana. “Francis Bacon, Early Modern Baconians and the Idols of Baconian Scholarship: Introductory Study.” Society and Politics, vol. 7, no. 1 (2013): 5-28.

6. Jalobeanu, Dana. “Learning from Experiment: Classification, Concept Formation and Modeling in Francis Bacon’s Experimental Philosophy.” Revue Roumaine de Philosophie, vol. 57, no. 1 (2013): 75-93.

7. Georgescu, Laura. “One experiment, Different Uses: Floating Magnetic Bodies in Peregrinus, Norman and Gilbert.” Journal of early Modern Studies, vol. 2, no. 1 (2013): 81-103.

8. Mateiescu, Sebastian. “Philip Melanchthon and the concept of universal experience.” Revue Roumaine de philosophie, vol. 57, no. 1 (2013): 111-131.

9. Mateiescu, Sebastian. “Francis Bacon on Potential Heat.” Society and Politics, vol. 7, no. 1 (2013): 5-28. Book chapters published: 1. Jalobeanu, Dana. “The Nature of Body.” In The Oxford Handbook of British Natural Philosophy in Seventeenth Century, edited by Peter Anstey, 213-50. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Articles forthcoming (accepted for publication and in the process of being printed):

1. Dobre, Mihnea. “Mixing Cartesianism and Newtonianism: The Reception of Cartesian Physics in England.” In 5ESHS Proceedings (forthcoming).

2. Jalobeanu, Dana. “A natural history of the heavens: Francis Bacon’s anti- Copernicanism,” in Copernicus and his international reception, edited by Claus Zittel, Intersections, Leiden: Brill (forthcoming 2014).

Book chapters forthcoming:

1. Dana Jalobeanu, “Constructing natural historical facts: Baconian natural history in Newton’s first paper on light and colors,” in Zvi Biener, Eric Schliesser eds. Newton’s Empiricism, Oxford University Press, 2014 (forthcoming).

Book (published):

Doina Cristina Rusu, From natural history to natural magic: Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum, PhD thesis submitted, approved and published by Radboud University, Nijmegen. Book (forthcoming):

Dana Jalobeanu, The hunt of Pan: Francis Bacon’s art of experimentation and the invention of science (Zeta Books 2013, forthcoming).

Articles and book chapters accepted for publication:

Articles (ISI and BDI):

1. Dana Jalobeanu, “Bacon’s experimental series and the art of experimenting,” special issue on Early Science and Medicine edited by Alberto Vanzo.

2. Oana Matei. Macaria, Hartlib Circle, And Husbanding Creation, Society and Politics, vol. 7, no. 2 (14), November 2013, special issue on Letters by Early Modern Philosophers, coordinated by Filip Buyse.

Book chapters:

1. Dana Jalobeanu, “The marriage of physics with mathematics: Francis Bacon on measurement, mathematics and the construction of a mathematical physics,” in G. Gordon, B. Hill, E. Slowik and K. Waters , eds., Language of nature, Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science, 2014.

Articles sent for publication (under review):

Oana Matei. “The Tradition of Husbandry and the Emergence of Vegetable Philosophy inside the Hartlib Circle.” Philosophia – International Journal of Philosophy. (submitted)

Sebastian Mateiescu. “Francis Bacon on the Stability and Transmutation of Species.” In preparation for being submitted for publication to K. Sterelny (ed.). Biology and Philosophy (Springer).

Doina-Cristina Rusu. “Hugh Platt’s Floraes Paradies: A new Source of Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum.” (submitted to Journal of Early Modern Studies)

Work in progress:

Mihnea Dobre. “Cartesian Medicine at the cross-roads between Experiment and Theory.”

Mihnea Dobre. “On the use of categories ‘Baconian’ and ‘Cartesian’ in the early modern period.”

Sebastian Mateiescu. “Francis Bacon on forms.” Sebastian Mateiescu. “Francis Bacon, God and matter theory.”

Doina-Cristina Rusu. “Spiders, Ants and Bees: Francis Bacon and the Use of Sources.”

Edited special issues:

The members of our project have edited a number of 5 special issues, as a result of subsequent workshops and panels organized during 2012 and 2013. Here they are:

Dana Jalobeanu Special issue of Journal of Early Modern Studies, 2/2012. Special issue of Journal of Early Modern Studies 4/2013 (in preparation) – co-editor, with Cesare Pastorino.

Oana Matei Letters by Early Modern Philosophers, coordinated by Filip Buyse, a special issue of Society and Politics, vol. 7, no. 2 (2013). Early Modern Baconians, special issue of Society and Politics vol. 7, no. 1 (2013)

Claudia Dumitru Special issue of Society and Politics, containing the papers of the 4rd edition of the Graduate Conference in Early Modern Philosophy (Spring 2014)


At the University of Bucharest:

1. Bucharest Colloquium in Early Modern Science (4th edition): Experiments and the Arts of Discovery in the Early Modern Europe, University of Bucharest 12-14 May 2013.

2. 4th Bucharest Graduate Conference in Early Modern Philosophy, University of Bucharest, 10-11 May 2013.

3. Experientia literata between practice and forms of writing, Bucharest workshop in early modern philosophy, 5-6 December 2012.

4. Workshop From natural history to science. The emergence of experimental philosophy, 18 iunie 2012, University of Bucharest.

5. Bucharest Colloquium in Early Modern Science (3rd edition): Creative experiments: Heuristic and Exploratory Experimentation in Early Modern Science, University of Bucharest 24-25 March 2012.

6. The third Edition of Bucharest Graduate Conference in Early Modern Philosophy, 22- 23 March 2012. Organized by Georgescu Laura.

In other universities:

➨ Francis Bacon on natural history and natural magic: the mystery of Sylva Sylvarum” (Princeton University, 14-27 Mai 2012). This 2 weeks workshop was organized by Daniel Garber (Princeton University) and Dana Jalobeanu (University of Bucharest) by putting together funds and resources coming from three research projects (based respctively in Princeton, London and Bucharest). For some members of the project this was both a research stage and a very intensive seminar in which they had the chance to get in touch with some of the English team responsible for the editing Sylva Sylvarum in the Oxford Francis Bacon edition. Dana Jalobeanu, Laura Georgescu and Doina Cristina Rusu took part in the daily discussions, presented papers and coordinated reading groups. 

➨ Dedicated symposia in the European Society for the History of Science (4ESHS 2012, Athens), Scientiae 2013 (Warwick), Bucharest-Princeton Seminar (Bran, 2012 and 2013).

Although we had initiated quite a number of international contacts and collaborations, our work in this direction was dramatically jeopardized by the budgetary cuts. We had to postpone or cancel altogether a number of research trips and conferences, including taking part in conferences where our papers have been accepted (such as HOPOS 2012 and ISIH 2013). In the case of the international panel organized for the conference Scientiae 2013 some members of the panel had to find additional financial support in order to be there. The participation was important because this conference is a yearly event of increasing prominence in the field – and for the subsequent edition of it, in 2014, we intend to propose two international panels to it. This kind of financial effort was, however, not possible in other cases, when we had to reduce the number of participants going to conferences in such a panel organized by our group. This is the case of the big 3 Societies conference (a joint meeting of the History of Science Society, Canadian Society for History of Science and British Society for History of Science). For this conference, we had a panel composed of Daniel Garber (Princeton), Cesare Pastorino (Sussex), Peter Dear (Cornell), Dana Jalobeanu and Laura Georgescu. In the end, we could only cover the participation of one member of our team, so only Laura Georgescu went to Philadelphia to give her paper. From the same reasons, some of the planned research trips had to be cancelled or substantially shortened. (such as Mihnea Dobre’s research trip to Princeton in September 2013, or Mihnea Dobre’s research trip to Paris in January 2013). The immediate results of these shortcomings and cancellations were visible in the way in which our research activity was subsequently slowed down.


An important objective of our project is to complete the first Romanian translation of Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum. Unfortunately, due to the budgetary cuts and subsequent changes in the team structure, we had to re-evaluate our activity in this field. We preferred to concentrate on producing papers and postponed the completion of the translation project for the third year, in the hope that we will benefit from enough funds which will allow us to devote a more significant amount of our time to the translation. Even in these dire circumstances, we have managed to produce an advanced draft of Century I and II of Sylva Sylvarum and a first draft of Century III. As part of our translation project and by way of disseminating the results and making our project known to the public, we have initiated a special blog where we have published short articles about Sylva Sylvarum and its context, about its philosophical vocabulary and about Francis Bacon’s sources, matter theory and magic. See http://blogs.ubfilosofie. ro/pce/?cat=6 In addition, we have put together a first draft of a glossary and index of which a sample (realized by Claudia Dumitru) can be read online at:

Disseminating the results

Blog: in order to disseminate the results and connect with scholars worldwide we have initiated a blog. Instead of having just a web-page, we have organized the blog in such a way to post, regularly, our major results in both research and the project of translation. See

Special courses: In the second semester of the academic year 2012-2013, Mihnea Dobre offered a course on Paradigm Changes in the History of Science. This class was offered as an optional course in the Department of Theoretical Philosophy of the Faculty of Philosophy (University of Bucharest). The students were invited to explore the foundations of the modern science through seminar discussions that included large sections about early modern experimentation. A second optional course is being offered for the Fall semester of 2013 by Dana Jalobeanu, Mihnea Dobre and Sebastian Mateiescu. It is an optional joint course on Philosophical cosmology. The course takes place every Wednesday in the Department of Theoretical Philosophy and has an open character, enrolling students from other departments as well. The course is introductory and aims to familiarize students with the larger field in history and philosophy of science. For this, we will make use of some of our more general results (such as the widespread and interesting character of sixteenth-century cosmographies and their natural historical character, the importance of Plato’s Timaeus in the constitution of a “science” of cosmography and the importance and widespread character of empirical research in natural historical works across Europe). More on our course here: http://blogs.ubfilosofie. ro/pce/?page_id=508

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