22-24 septembre 2016 - 7e congrès international de la Société européenne d’histoire des sciences

Valérie Debuiche et Pascal Taranto organisent un symposium intitulé « Scientists and the powerful from the Middle Age to the Classical period » au 7e congrès international de la Société européenne d’histoire des sciences, « Science and power, science as power » qui déroulera à Prague du 22 au 24 septembre 2016.

Résumé :
From the Middle Age to the 18th centuries, the science incredibly improved because of the development of both technical devices and theoretical doctrines. For instance, Galileo’s telescope met natural theology, paving the way to geocentrism ; Leeuwenhoek’s observations with the microscope revived the debate between mechanism and vitalism ; Pascal’s invention of a calculating machine shed light on the issue of the combinatorial nature of reason.
Many skilled scientists also were great thinkers or philosophers, who deeply embodied the spirit of their era : Al-Khwarizmi, Averroes, Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Leibniz, etc. In a way or in another, they confronted or benefited the power of political rulers or religious censors. As a result, the first model for a political organization of science was held by Lord Chancelor and scientist Francis Bacon, e.g. the « Solomon’s House » of the New Atlantis, a utopia which was soon to lead to the creation of The Royal Society. Besides, their works were not only promoted or constrained by the action of the powerful, but also influenced, even nourished by the interest of a Caliph, a Queen, a Prince, a religious dignitary, etc. For instance, Caliph Al-Ma’mum promoted the development of the most famous and greatest House of Wisdom : the Bayt al-Hikma in Bagdad where scientists worked on translations and comments of the most important of antic books. The very famous epistolary relation between Descartes and the Queen Christina of Sweden led the philosopher to elaborate on the moral theory of passions. In his project of writing the history of the House of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Leibniz travelled in Italia where he had the opportunity to improve his works on dynamics.

The aim of this symposium is to consider the nature of the relation between scientists or philosophers and the powerful from the Middle Age to the Classical period in any geographical area :

  • Was that relation institutional, social, theoretical, political, relative to personal ambitions, etc.?
  • How did it influence the work of scientists : their method, the choice of their topics, their general or philosophical doctrine of knowledge, etc.?
  • What was the extent and the consequence of the power of scientists on the powerful : on their education, on their mentality, on their choices of government, etc.?

Intervenants  :

  • Marouane Ben Miled (ENIT – Tunis) : Algebra and proto-algebra : about formalism and foundations
  • Valérie Debuiche (Centre Granger) : Leibniz and Sophie Charlotte of Brandenburg : from master to friend
  • Giuseppe Di Liberti (Centre Granger) : A journey to Russia and Diderot’s dream of an encyclopedic museum
  • Pascal Taranto (Centre Granger) : « Scientia potestas est » : Francis Bacon and the birth of technocracy

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