4th Bucharest Colloquium in Early Modern Science
Experiments and the Arts of Discovery in the Early Modern Europe
12-14 May 2013
Center for the Logic, History and the Philosophy of Science
Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest
This international colloquium has been organized within the framework of the research project From natural history to science: the emergence of experimental philosophy (CNCS grant PN-II-ID-PCE-2011-3-0719, contract no. 294/05/10/2011). Our aim was to put together scholars working on various forms of early modern experimentation and explore several important themes about the sixteenth and seventeenth-century experiments. Among these themes, we would like to highlight the discussion of one of the most important sources of Francis Bacon’s natural histories, the work of the Italian natural philosopher Giovanni Battista della Porta (papers presented in the colloquium by Sergius Kodera and Arianna Borrelli), as well as setting the general framework of experimental natural history (Peter Anstey) and the new medical “experiments” of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Evan Ragland). How Bacon and della Porta relate to each other with respect to experiments presented in their books – many of Bacon’s experiments form the Sylva Sylvarum are from Porta’s Magia naturalis – was part of another (larger) question we ask in our research project: what is “Baconian experimentation”? This question was explored within the first two days of the colloquium in round-up discussions (Dana Jalobeanu, Cesare Pastorino, Sebastian Mateiescu, Claudia Dumitru, James Everest, Mihnea Dobre, Oana Matei, and Richard Serjeantson). More of the context about Bacon’s philosophy was uncovered in the second day of our colloquium. Thus, Daniel Garber explored the relation between Bacon’s Latin natural histories and his Sylva. Sorana Corneanu examined the relation between traditional rhetoric and Baconian theory of imagination. Benedino Gemelli discussed the reception of Bacon and his experiments in the famous Dutch natural philosopher, Isaac Beeckman. Vlad Alexandrescu pointed out another possible connection between Bacon and René Descartes. The final day of the colloquium was opened by Mordechai Feingold’s lecture “What was the ‘Experimental Philosophy’?,” which raised several important problems that were discussed in the final round-up discussion “Experiments in Early Modern Philosophy: historical and historiographical questions” (Dana Jalobeanu, Cesare Pastorino, Peter Anstey). Although was not initially in the colloquium program, Roger Ariew presented a paper on Fromondus’s views about comets. Koen Vermeir explored how mathematics, imagination, and experiments lead to “mathematical experiments” in John Wilkins. Alberto Vanzo discussed a case of Italian experimental activities in the late seventeenth century.
This very brief overview is merely a glimpse into the many fruitful discussions that were generated by papers presented in the 4th Bucharest Colloquium in Early Modern Science. Given the high quality of these papers, we are planning to publish a proceeding of this event.