THE LOSERS OF THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION

Organized by the Research Centre for the Foundations of Modern Thought (FME), University of Bucharest, in collaboration with the Philosophy Department at Princeton University

 5 – 10 July 2013
Bran, Romania

Invited speakers include: Igor Agostini (Università del Salento), Stefano Di Bella (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa), Daniel Garber (Princeton University), Sophie Roux (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris), Emanuela Scribano (Università Ca’Foscari Venezia)

History is written by the victors — but not when it comes to the Scientific Revolution. Revisionist historiographies in the post-Kuhnian tradition have often championed the losers. Questioning the traditional accounts (Whiggish or Marxist), recent narratives of the scientific revolution have drastically altered the portraits of the relevant actors, parties and currents of thought, while also questioning the categories and concepts formerly used to tell the story of the emergence (or ‘origins’) of modern science. However, not all the traditional historiographical categories have been replaced: narratives in terms of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ still prevail. Meanwhile, intellectual historians have begun to ask a number of questions relative to these categories, such as:

– What historiographical assumptions underwrite our decision that a thinker, an idea or a theory are to be numbered among the winning or the losing camp? Do these roles change with the specific perspective we adopt?

–  What kinds of interaction do we take the winners and the losers to have been engaged in — battles between diverging worldviews or debates based on at least some shared presuppositions? polemical clashes or confrontations issuing in modified positions on either side?

– What kinds of context (intellectual, social, religious, political, institutional, material) can best account for the fate of ideas or theories and their winner or loser status?

Our seminar invites reflection on such (and related) issues and investigation of particular cases that may illuminate them. It aims to do so by using the vantage point of the losers (variously defined), which may be the more profitable in trying to understand what exactly is going on when ‘you win some, you lose some’.

The Bucharest-Princeton Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy is an international annual meeting of scholars interested in various aspects of early modern thought. The aim of the seminar is to create a stimulating environment for discussing papers and ideas. It includes workshops in the morning and presentations of papers in the afternoon, where participants can present work in progress. While the morning sessions will focus on the theme of “The Losers of the Scientific Revolution,” the afternoon sessions seek to give participants an opportunity to discuss their own special interests with an open and sympathetic audience of students and scholars with broad interests in early modern thought. Throughout we try to maintain a balance between the high scholarly level and the informal friendly spirit of a colloquium.

The Seminar will take place in Bran, a small mountain resort near Brasov, in Transylvania. It will be hosted in a small, friendly Bed and Breakfast (single or double rooms). The participation fee is 150 EUR for faculty and 90 EUR for students (covering accommodation with breakfast). We invite applications for contributions (from researchers) and for attendance (from students). If you want to contribute a paper, please send a CV and a one-page abstract, and if you want to attend, a CV and a letter of intent – by April 20 – to Vlad Alexandrescu (valexandrescu@gmail.com), Sorana Corneanu (soranacorneanu@yahoo.com), Dana Jalobeanu (dana.jalobeanu@celfis.ro).

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