CRM: Centro De Giorgi
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The Scientific Revolutions of the 16th and 17th Centuries

seminar: From Worldviews to Material Cultures: Reconsidering the 'Scientific Revolution'

speaker: Mario Biagioli (Harvard University)

abstract: This paper explores the various ways in which the historiography of early modern science has increasingly distanced itself from the notion of "scientific revolution." This is not simply the result of a move from a focus on the Copernican Revolution to a more distributed attention on scientific disciplines other than astronomy and cosmology. Nor does it derive from a mounting skepticism about the historical tenability of Kuhn's philosophical notion of scientific revolutions. What has changed, slowly and without much fracas, is a whole historiographical vision that focuses no longer on mentalistic notions of knowledge (however contextualized they might have been), but rather on the materialities of scientific practices. What started as an increasing attention to the role of institutions, artisanal culture, technologies, embodied skills, patronage dynamics, etc. has now become a more articulated trend that is affecting many facets of the historiography on the "scientific revolution." While the old distinction between "internalist" and "externalist" historiography seems to be fading away (at least as a site of contention), what is replacing it are distinctions between knowing and doing, between the transmission of knowledge and the migration of skilled bodies, etc. This is not just a shift from theory to practice or from mind to body, but perhaps even a move away from humanistic notions of knowledge altogether. Worldviews, it seems, are really becoming history.

Tue 13 Dec, 10:00 - 11:00, Sala Conferenze Centro De Giorgi
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