Since its inception in 1995, the work of Department II has been principally organized around thematic research groups: “The Emergence of Scientific Objects” (1995-96), “Varieties of Scientific Experience” (1996-97), “Demonstration-Test-Proof”(1997-98), “The Scientific Persona”(1998-99),“The Moral Authority of Nature” (1999-2001), and “The Common Languages of Art and Science,” as well as an ongoing project on “The History of Scientific Objectivity.” These themes are chosen to open up fundamental categories of scientific thought and practice to detailed historical investigation: how do some domains of phenomena (microbes, centers of gravity, monsters) become objects of scientific inquiry? how do new forms of scientific experience such as the experiment or the clinical trial establish themselves? under what circumstances do novel patterns of argument, e.g. mathematical demonstration or computer simulation, emerge? when and why does the intellectual and cultural identity of the scientist diverge from that of the sage or scholar? why is the conflation of the normative and the natural apparently so irresistible? how have artists and science since the Renaissance created shared ways of visualizing nature? The aim of questions like these is to create a historical epistemology, which examines the emergence and development of the categories - object, experience, proof, representation - that have come to undergird rational inquiry, both theoretical and empirical. Historical epistemology attempts to root the abstract and immutable concepts of epistemology in the concrete, changing contexts of history. It addresses the specificities of scientific practices as well as the generalities of concepts and ideals: for example, the techniques of photography and statistical inference are as constituitive of scientific objectivity as the philosophical reflections of Kant or Helmholtz.
Each research group consists of a mix of junior and senior scholars, drawn from multiple disciplines and countries, most of whom spend all or part of an academic year at the Institute working on individual topics within the framework of that year’s research theme. In addition to Institute funding, individual scholars have also been supported by fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the U.S.A. Fulbright Commission, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the French CNRS, the German Academic Exchange Service, the Swiss National Science Foundation, and their home institutions. Because of the importance of comparative studies for historical epistemology, groups are composed with an eye toward diversity of disciplinary (history of natural history, mathematics, anthropology, chemistry, etc.), period (ancient to contemporary), and methodological (history, history of science, history of art, philosophy, sociology, anthropology) perspectives. Members of the group present works-in-progress to one another at biweekly departmental colloquia; moreover, each research project has included at least one international conference related to that year’s theme. In addition, intensive working groups were established for some groups (see The Moral Authority of Nature (below), Natural Law in Early Modern Europe (), Things that Talk (), which came together in a series of meetings to discuss and revise papers for joint publications. This format proved especially useful for interdisciplinary groups that require more contact and detailed discussions than conferences can provide. (Publications relating to projects, both individual and joint, are listed under the author’s name in the Bibliography.)
Danielle Allen, Jacques Bos, Joan Cadden, Alexandra Cook, Lucia Dacome, Lorraine Daston, Fa-ti Fan, Eckhardt Fuchs, Valentin Groebner, Michael Hau, Ilaria Lo Tufo, Abigail J. Lustig, Gregg Mitman, Michelle Murphy, Katharine Park, Denise Phillips, Hans Pols, Matt Price, Robert N. Proctor, Helmut Puff, Robert J. Richards, Londa Schiebinger, Laura Slatkin, Marianne Sommer, Julia Adeney Thomas, Fernando Vidal
The conflation of the natural with the normative has counted as a philosophical fallacy for centuries. The oppositions of nomos and physis, is and ought, nature and culture all aim to drive a wedge between the inexorable facts of nature and the human values of ethics and art. This division is a principal feature of our philosophical and moral landscape. Yet the very frequency with which these oppositions must be invoked and insisted upon suggests that inferring from “what is the case” to “what ought to be the case” is still a deeply rooted habit of thought and feeling. At least within the western tradition, the “naturalistic fallacy” has proved robustly resistant to philosophical harangues, and to a metaphysics of airtight categories that would prevent any mingling of the natural and the normative. Nature as ultimate source of moral authority surfaces in the most diverse contexts, some ancient, some modern, and others almost futuristic: the reproach “unnatural mother” is as old as the legend of Medea, but the notion of “natural human rights” is the invention of the Enlightenment, and the “unnaturalness” of human clones is a moral spectre conjured up in tomorrow’s newspaper. Appeals to the moral authority of nature are not restricted to popular culture: debates about nature as a standard for the good and the beautiful are also waged in science (e.g. in evolutionary theory) and law (e.g. in environmental regulations). If the naturalistic fallacy is indeed a fallacy, it is a remarkably widespread and persistent one, and its resilience still requires historical explanation.
In order to address this highly complex and controversial topic within a comparative framework, both historical and cross-cultural, a working group of eighteen scholars of diverse disciplines and nationalities was constituted in the fall of 1999. Their research embraced a broad range of historical cases, ranging chronologically from Antiquity to the twentieth century, and thematically from political, pedagogical and economic theory to law, medicine, anthropology, and evolutionary biology. The group met three times at the Institute: on 13-24 September 1999, 19-30 June and 19-25 August 2000. These meetings allowed the group members to discuss with one another and intensively first their projects, then their papers, and finally the revised versions of their chapters. The result is a volume of essays, individually authored but conceptualized and extensively reworked in the light of group discussions. The Moral Authority of Nature, edited by Lorraine Daston and Fernando Vidal, is under contract with Chicago University Press.
|The philosopher uncovering Nature and her laws. From François Peyrard, De la nature et de ses lois (Paris, 1793)||“Worship at the Temple of Nature.” Engraving after a drawing by John Henry Fuseli. From Erasmus Darwin, The Temple of Nature, or, The Origin of Society (London, 1803)|
The sheer variety and flexibility of nature’s meanings and uses has long aroused suspicion. From the seventeenth-century chemist Robert Boyle to the twentieth-century historian of philosophy Arthur Lovejoy, numerous critics have made careful lists of the multiple senses of nature, sometimes to conclude that the word should be abolished altogether. The denunciation of supposed logical fallacies, and the debunking of social and political ideologies have been the two most common ways of dealing with the relations between the natural and the normative, and with the seemingly transgressive boundary crossings between nature and culture.
To the extent that almost every ideology seeks to sign up nature for its cause, and to bolster its political credentials by appeals to its authority, critics have imagined nature as a kind of blank screen or mirror, upon which the most diverse human fantasies may be projected. Paradoxically, then, the most obdurate power - nature’s necessity - has been joined in these accounts to the most malleable of cultural constructs - nature as anything you care to make it. It is therefore not surprising that critical attention has shifted from nature to those who claim to speak for it: doctors, scientists, jurists, theologians, politicians, activists. Unmasking these voices as nature’s ventriloquists is the critic’s purpose. The goal of the research group on the moral authority of nature was rather to shift the focus of inquiry from the existence and (il)legitimacy of nature’s authority to its jurisdictions and workings. While recognizing the significance of exposing
naturalization or scrutinizing undue mixtures between the naturally given and the socially constructed, the group wished to examine ways in which “nature” has been endowed with authority in human affairs. Though highly focused, the individual projects of the group members related to each other in numerous ways, and connected around three main sets of meanings and functions of nature: as a source of values and a value in itself; as a means of thinking about necessity and freedom; and as a permeable and moving boundary that demarcates individuals and categories.
The most inexorable authority is that of necessity, against which human will strives in vain. Nature’s necessity may operate at several levels: it may govern the cosmic order; it may be indelibly inscribed in the body; or it may unfold over time as a result of (and often retaliation against) human actions. Through Hesiod’s Works and Days (8th century BCE), Laura Slatkin examined
how in early Greek literature the cosmic and human orders were so tightly bound to one another as to be inextricable. Nature provides a paradigm of equilibrium and regularity on which justice is based, but it makes human justice the perspective through which nature itself is viewed as amoving category, rather than as a fixed and unitary moral authority. As Joan Cadden showed in her study of Geoffrey Chaucer’s fourteenth-century poem Parliament of Fowls, the cosmic order depends in turn on sorting out the inventory of the universe into “natural kinds.” In the regime of nature in late medieval christian culture, overall order is supported by the order of categories (in this case, species of birds). The imperative to adhere to one’s type is at once a duty and a necessity, again blending the realms of is and ought. Within these natural kinds, for example the human species, anatomy and physiology outline still further categories that allegedly determine character and conduct.
It was in such a perspective that Valentin Groebner studied procedures for categorizing
individual natures between 1250 and 1600. In medieval Galenic medicine, an individual’s nature was fixed by a balance of bodily humors known as a “complexion,” which came in endless varieties but which lay beyond the power of individual choice to change. Groebner discerns a shift in the sixteenth century from an internal balance of bodily humors to external visible signs, from Galenic complexio to the modern complexion of cosmetic companies.
Bodily markers evolved, but remained essential as means of penetrating impostures and disguises of all kinds. Such markers, and different ways of thinking about natural kinds, continued to function as ways of drawing authority from nature. In the context of human medical experimentation in the eighteenth-century examined by Londa Schiebinger, corporeal uniformity could efface social markers, but only up to a point. The bodies of royalty and criminals, slaveholders and slaves, rich and poor were deemed interchangeable for the purposes of testing a new drug or therapy; those of men and women were not. By the late twentieth century, as Robert Proctor showed in his research on theories about the antiquity or recency of human origins, paleoanthropologists had become reluctant to admit the existence of multiple coexisting species of humans. Under the influence of the 1952 UNESCO Statement on Race, they tried to preserve the unity of human nature, tragically shattered by a now discredited racism. The definition of humanness, however, kept flitting from criterion to criterion: upright posture, language, tool use. Each quiddity of the human thus becomes a standard to uphold, not only with respect to other species, but also within our own: that which is essentially human turns into the trait to promote, be it crafty intelligence or a handy thumb.
|Individuals categorized on the basis of their “complexions” understood as external visible signs. From Bartholomaeus Cocles, Phisionomi und chiromanci: Eyn news complexion buecklein (Strasburg, 1536)|
Nature thus functions as the authoritative foundation of human jurisdiction, and can intervene directly to insure that its laws are complied with. Yet in most cases, there seem to be margins for human freedom. No one deliberates the rights and wrongs of obeying the law of gravity, and vices necessitated by nature are not blameworthy. But humans often evade, overrule, or even defy nature’s purported authority, particularly in the domain of sexual desire and
reproduction. Sometimes it is nature’s own contradictions that undermine its authority, as when the quirks of individual nature subvert that of the species and cosmos. Within the medieval Christian tradition, Nature, as God’s vicar, oversaw the replenishment of the world by insuring that like reproduced like. At the same time, she also planted within individuals unruly desires that could undermine her scheme by leading the worthy to mate with the less worthy, male to couple with male, or female with female. Helmut Puff studied a later figure of such dialectic in the context of trials for “crimes against nature” in early modern Germany and Switzerland. Although the very category of acts contra naturam implies the fixity of a natural and divine order, individuals accused of sodomy were understood to be rebelling against Nature by following inclinations dictated by their own individual natures. In the Enlightenment context examined by Fernando Vidal, physicians presented the alleged physical and mental consequences of masturbation - ultimately, an early and painful death - as an instance of the immanent justice of nature.
|The teacher, the skeleton of his young son, and a pupil: early death as a consequence of onanism instantiated the immanent justice of nature. From Ueber Kinderunzucht und Selbstbefleckung. Ein Buch bloß für Aeltern, Erzieher und Jugendfreunde, von einem Schulmanne. (Züllichau/Freystadt, 1787)|
The tensions inherent in appealing to the moral authority of nature are made visible in the allegorical and emblematic traditions of personified nature in medieval and Renaissance Europe studied by Katharine Park: nature can be depicted as at once regal but fragile, a goddess-like figure with a torn gown, or simultaneously bounteous but bestial, her many lactating breasts resembling
Defiance to nature’s command, and the ensuing risk of facing the consequence of unnatural or antinatural conduct are of course not confined to the realm of sexuality. In his work on the history of debates about the economic value of nature, Matt Price examined late twentieth-century ecological economists’s critique of hedonistic utilitarianism and cost-benefit analysis. Central to their critique, first formulated in the 1970s, is the idea that the theory of value advocated by neoclassical economics contradicts natural law, denying the reality of the material world, and misunderstanding the nature of life. Their conception of nature as a unified totality not only sustained their proposals for turning economics into a life science, but also justified their doomsday predictions about the consequences of squandering nature’s finite energy sources. Another example is given by Gregg Mitman in his “cultural geography” of ragweed, a major cause of hay fever. In the United States, by the beginning of the twentieth century, ambrosia artemesioefolia (as the plant is called) embodied all that allergic tourists sought to escape. But ragweed migrated from the country to cities, and turned into a weed of civilization. It invaded the urban landscape, and ended up understood as an industrial-like source of air pollution, and as nature’s revenge for greedy human exploitation of the land.
Thanks to pharmaceuticals, allergy sufferers could “go back to nature.” At the same time that biomedicine freed individuals from the constraints of the external environment, nature was made
safe from a civilization that no longer needed to eradicate wildflowers. Controlling and transforming one’s body, however, can be not only a gesture of submission to nature’s supposed demands, but also a means of challenging its authority. Michelle Murphy showed how twentieth-century feminists sought control over women’s reproductive biology as the sine qua non of their liberation. The utopian fantasy of ectogenesis sought to disentangle reproduction from bodies; conceptually disavowing, or even physically abolishing reproductive capacities were thought to pave the way for freedom from oppression. The response to nature’s constraint was an equally energetic drive to constrain nature. So vigorous indeed was the language of control that nature came to be seen as more malleable than culture, sex more readily alterable than gender.
Since the Enlightenment, nature’s authority has been closely associated with universalism and uniformity, whether nature’s claims are made on behalf of the Rights of Man or the metric system. Locality, however, can be equally significant. In her research on nature and the political subject in modern Japan, Julia Adeney Thomas described how political theorist Maruyama Masao attacked the tyranny of nature in the name of political emancipation. Writing in the aftermath of World War II, and in contrast to Frankfurt School intellectuals who traced German fascism to the ruthless mastery of nature, Maruyama blamed Japanese fascism on enslavement to nature, understood as the dead hand of tradition and the indolence of sensual pleasures. Yet when Maruyama criticized Japanese ultranationalism for its thralldom to nature, he had in mind among other things the cult of the distinctively Japanese landscape. In his study of nature and national essence in early twentieth-century China, Fa-ti Fan explained how complicated it was for Chinese intellectuals to interpret and translate the modern Western idea of nature and the knowledge built thereon. He also showed, however, how the idea was used to establish a new brand of nationalism, which elevated local civil and natural history into the “geobody of the nation.” Both negatively and positively, it was local, rather than universal nature that entered debates about the essence of national identity.
Conflicts between nature’s authority and its rivals create oppositions that depend on a logic of hypostasis and polarization: nature versus freedom, nature versus art, nature versus civilization, nature versus history, nature versus nurture, nature versus society. The terms in this far-from-exhaustive list overlap but do not coincide; each is the product of a distinct historical context and shifts the authority of nature in a somewhat different direction. Nature versus civilization, for example, opposes the wild to the refined, while nature versus history contrasts the eternal with the mutable. Indeed, nature’s authority often depends on this multiplicity and elasticity: in his account of the fortunes of pedagogical naturalism in nineteenth-century Prussia, Eckhardt Fuchs documented the suppleness of the word Natur in educational debates, sometimes opposed to religion and at other times allied with it, in competition with Bildung but also supporting it.
Nature appears as an external authority even when its imperatives are lodged deep in the body or psyche, and obedience to them seems inevitable or effortless. Danielle Allen thus analyzed the scandal provoked by Bernard Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees among eighteenth-century readers in terms of the “cunning” that disguises the second nature of upbringing as the first nature of inborn human nature. As she suggests, the principal attraction of the beehive in the history of Western political thinking has been its utility as a way of imagining society, the hive serving as an exemplar for the integration of parts into a whole. But it was not the naturalization of society that most irated those who excoriated and burned Mandeville’s book, nor even his reducing virtue and good manners to self-interest. In their eyes, Mandeville’s crime lay rather in exposing allegedly natural conduct as in fact acquired.
The discursive legitimation of the value of nature was often accompanied by cultivated forms of experience - aesthetic, erotic, sentimental - that converted its authority into a felt reality. In her work on regimens of attention and the values of nature in the Enlightenment, Lorraine Daston described how natural history “beatified” lowly insects, placed them within a complex of theological, esthetic, moral, and economic values, and thus brought human and natural
|Abigail J. Lustig|
productions within a common framework of utility. The valorization of previously disdained parts of nature that lent support to the valorization of nature as a whole came to be expressed in prose and poetry, but it was built into and accomplished through elaborated modes of attention, observation, and description. Abigail J. Lustig researched the claims made by nineteenth- and twentieth-century myrmecologists about the relevance of observing ants for understanding and planning human societies. Ants were enlisted as models and anti-models for European and American societies after the devastation of World War I. Their supposedly anarchistic organization could furnish criteria for a well-structured human civilization, their survival through a kind of egoistic altruism could suggest the means for securing the perpetuation of the human species, or their intelligence could be used as a measure of the distance that separates animal and human societies. While the two first claims were justified within the framework of a naturalizing logic, all were sustained by a fierce devotion to insects that shaped the naturalists’s affective and intellectual experience. In tracing the emergence of Goethe’s notion of the Urpflanze, Robert J. Richards argued that the poet’s erotic awakening infused reality into his philosophy of art and his intuition of the existence of natural archetypes. There was in Goethe a deep emotional and esthetic connection between his experience of female form and beauty and his ideal biological structures. These are all positive forms of experience. Negative emotions, however, can work just as powerfully to establish nature’s authority at a visceral level. The terms and the style used to speak about “crimes against nature” (e.g. sodomy and onanism) defined the emotions of horror and disgust with which it was appropriate to react. Nature’s authority can thus circumvent the discourse of legitimation to penetrate directly into habits, perceptions, judgments, and feelings.
The projects carried out by members of the group documented the diversity of nature’s work and its peculiar efficacy. In the most varied contexts, nature stands for order, sometimes to the point of tyranny: the division of labor among insects and humans, the great circle of the constellations and seasons, the fixity of types, the balanced give-and-take of exchange, the conservation of energy, the hierarchy of kinds, the permanence of place, the truth of bodies, the immanent justice of cause and effect. Within the framework of nature’s moral authority, even the disorder wrought by earthquakes and floods becomes part of a scheme of vengeance for human malfeasance. Whether this order is perceived as harmonious or oppressive, ineluctable or changeable, just or unjust, it is oddly insidious. The natural is synonymous with the self-evident, melding habit with duty. The “is” and “ought” blur together, despite strenuous efforts to hold them apart. Nature’s order seems to reconcile autonomy and obedience, the strait and narrow path to virtue with the lazy path of least resistance. Hence, despite centuries of closely argued criticism, the steady attraction of the belief in the moral authority of nature.
Lorraine Daston and Fernando Vidal: “Introduction: Doing What Comes Naturally”
1. Laura Slatkin: “Measuring Authority, Authoritative Measures: Hesiod’s Works and Days”
2. Katharine Park: “Nature in Person: Medieval and Renaissance Allegories and Emblems”
3. Danielle Allen: “Burning The Fable of the Bees: The Incendiary Authority of Nature”
4. Lorraine Daston: “Attention and the Values of Nature in the Enlightenment”
5. Robert J. Richards: “The Erotic Authority of Nature: Science, Art, and the Female during Goethe’s Italian Journey”
6. Eckhardt Fuchs: “Nature and Bildung: Pedagogical Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century Germany”
7. Matt Price: “Economics, Ecology, and the Value of Nature”
8. Joan Cadden: “Trouble in the Earthly Paradise: The Regime of Nature in Late Medieval Christian Culture”
9. Helmut Puff: “Acts ‘Against Nature’ in the Law Courts of Early Modern Germany and Switzerland”
10. Fernando Vidal: “Onanism, Enlightenment Medicine, and the Immanent Justice of Nature”
11. Abigail J. Lustig: “Ants and the Nature of Nature in Auguste Forel, Erich Wasmann, and William Morton Wheeler”
12. Julia Adeney Thomas: “‘To Become As One Dead.’ Nature and the Political Subject in Modern Japan”
13. Michelle Murphy: Changing the Organization of Nature: “U.S. Radical Feminism and the Politics of Control”
14. Valentin Groebner: “complexio / complexion. Categorizing Individual Natures 1250-1600”
15. Londa Schiebinger: “Human Experimentation in the Eighteenth Century: Which Bodies Count?”
16. Fa-ti Fan: “Nature and National Essence: the Guocui Circle in Early Twentieth-Century China”
17. Gregg Mitman: “When Pollen Became Poison: A Cultural Geography of Ragweed in America”
18. Robert N. Proctor: “Three Roots of Human Recency: Molecular Anthropology, the Refigured Acheulean, and the Unesco Response to Auschwitz”
Carrie Asman continued her investigations of the cultural and scientific history of pearls, emphasizing how these products of nature wielded authority across disciplinary boundaries. From art and theology to science and philosophy, pearls have been considered signs of cosmological perfection or immaculate conception; in the early modern period, they also fascinated for their association with parasites and pathology, and were used as basis for visualizing systems in art and science. Jacques Bos focused his research on the character sketch in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. He demonstrated the simultaneously descriptive and evaluative functions of the genre, and the ways in which it constituted a common code of representation at the crossroads of
philosophy, rhetoric, and medicine. Continuing her studies of the social and cultural history of scientific travel, and of the cognitive and material procedures for representing nature and society, Marie-Noëlle Bourguet studied Alexander von Humboldt’s manuscript notebooks and letters, focusing on his 1805 trip to Italy and his interests in quantification and plant geography. Alexandra Cook studied Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s critique of exotic botany, which she related to the philosopher’s project to reform the meta-languages of music and botany, and to the social, moral, and political implications he attributed to such a reform. During her tenure as Lorenz Krüger fellow, Lucia Dacome investigated models of embodiment in eighteenth-century Britain. In particular, she documented the strategies adopted by physicians to legitimate weight-watching as an authoritative medical practice, as well as the assimilation of these practices into theological
|Ilaria Lo Tufo|
defenses of bodily resurrection. As Schloessman fellow, Michael Hau studied the response of Germany physicians to the “crisis of medicine” during the Weimar Republic. Faced with challenges from alternative medicine, physicians came to believe that they had to become empathic personalities and treat their patients in a holistic way. Sarah Jansen pursued comparative research towards her book on the constitution of “populations” as scientific objects in the period 1870-1950. She focused on the ways in which the concept was extended from humans to “wild” animals, and on how techniques deviced to regulate animal populations influenced the human population sciences (eugenics, racial anthropometry, criminology, demography, epidemiology, ecology). Ilaria Lo Tufo continued research on the relation between literature and the sciences in late 18th-century France, analyzing in particular the images of the natural and the social world in Nicolas-Edme Rétif de la Bretonne’s imaginary travelogue La Découverte australe. In her
investigation of science and public culture in the first half of the nineteenth century in Germany, A. Denise Phillips traced the emergence of the category Naturwissenschaft as designator of a new cultural entity related to a complex of middle class cultural and economic pursuits, and deemed to be morally beneficial and spiritually edifying. Hans Pols continued his work on “psychiatric utopias” and the mental hygiene movement in America from 1900 to 1950, and examined how the educational system functioned as a for “ecological experiments,” as well as the scientific images of human nature developed and disseminated in those contexts. Marianne Sommer, a Walther Rathenau fellow, pursued research on the construction of the categories of “humanity,” “gender,” and “race” through the case of the “Red Lady of Paviland.” The story of the discovery and interpretation of these human remains found in 1823 highlights the connections between the
|Bert van de Roemer|
history of paleoanthropology and discussions about man’s place in nature. Till Wahnbaeck finished his dissertation on the luxury debate in the Italian Enlightenment and its role in the emergence of political economy. Bert van de Roemer continued work for his dissertation on Dutch natural and artistic collections in the period 1680-1720, with a focus on interactions between religious, scientific and esthetic considerations. The case study of Simon Schijnvoet’s collection highlights the physico-theological significance of embellishment and elegant arrangements. Klaus Vogel investigated the impact of changes in early modern natural knowledge on the self-image of Europeans, with special attention to encours with Chinese and American cultures.
(Organized by Lorraine Daston, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and Gregg Mitman, University of Wisconsin at Madison)
The scientific tabu against anthropomorphism has a long and convoluted history. Since the seventeenth century arguments have been advanced against the attribution of mental categories deemed to be distinctively human (such as intentionality, intelligence, consciousness, and the emotions - the list varies with period and author) to non-human entities, both animate and inanimate. Although the conclusions of arguments old and new may appear to converge, the arguments themselves diverge sharply. The earliest arguments were frankly theo- and anthropocentric: neither nature nor animals deserved to be dignified with the intellect reserved for God and man. The theological cast of these arguments reminds us that the oldest prohibitions against anthropomorphism were religious, and suggest unsuspected continuities between religious and scientific traditions. More recent arguments combat anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism as one and the same sin: arrogance puts humans at the hub of the universe; arrogance also projects the human image on to the non-human world. Anthropomorphism is at once a philosophical, anthropological, biological, and cognitive scientific problem: philosophical, because it is the primary example of how the personal can allegedly distort knowledge of the world;
anthropological, because it has long been held to be a distinguishing mark of traditional as opposed to modern cultures (or, in developmental psychology, of children’s as opposed to adults’ thinking); biological, because animal ethologists adduce Darwinian reasons why there should be cognitive and moral continuity between humans and at least phylogenetically proximate species; and cognitive scientific, because proponents of computer models of human mental processes reject the distinction between machine algorithms and human intelligence. These debates are often intertwined, and all bear on the question of what is distinctively human, if anything. The workshop aimed to illuminate current controversies over anthropomorphism by examining the history of the tabu in science and religion, as well as the intellectual, cultural, and political contexts of contemporary debates. The collection is under consideration by Johns Hopkins University Press and Columbia University Press.
Introduction to the Exhibition
|AcroBats. Photography by Tim Flach|
Speakers of the conference:
Lorraine Daston (MPIWG, Berlin)
“Intelligences: Angelic, Animal, Human”
Wendy Doniger (University of Chicago)
“Theriomorphism in Ancient India: Humans More Bestial than the Beasts”
Paul White (Darwin Papers, University of Cambridge)
“The Experimental Animal in Victorian Britain”
Gregg Mitman (University of Wisconsin at Madison)
“Pachyderm Personalities: When Numbers Don’t Count”
Ann Fienup-Riordan (Arctic Studies Center, Anchorage)
“The Boy Who Lived with the Seal, Revisited”
Sarita Siegel (Alchemy Films, San Francisco)
“The Disenchanted Forest” (Film and Commentary)
James Serpell (University of Pennsylvania)
“People in Disguise: Anthropomorphism in the Human-Pet Relationship”
Deborah Kelemen (Boston University)
“Intention and Design in Children’s and Adults’ Reasoning about Nature”
Pamela Asquith (University of Alberta)
“Cultures of Anthropomorphism”
Sandra Mitchell (University of Pittsburgh)
“Anthropomorphism: Cross-species Modeling”
Elliott Sober (University of Wisconsin at Madison)
Final Commentary: “A Philosopher’s Reflections”
Concomitant with the project on The Moral Authority of Nature, Lorraine Daston and Friedrich Steinle continued work on a joint project with Michael Stolleis from the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (Frankfurt am Main) on the relationships between the rise of natural law concepts in early modern European jurisprudence and natural philosophy. The working group, constituted at a 1999 workshop on “Natur-Gesetz-Naturgesetz” held under the auspices of the German Research Foundation (DFG) in Bad Homburg, was enlarged to include historians of philosophy and theology. In February 2001, the working group met at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science to present and discuss drafts of papers. The central question addressed was the remarkable spread of natural law concepts and vocabulary in theology, natural and moral philosophy, and jurisprudence in the period from roughly 1550-1750. At the outset of this period, the vocabulary of natural law, which had a history stretching back to Roman Antiquity, was relatively rare in all of these fields; by the end, it was ubiquitous. Heretofore, the rise and diffusion of natural law has been studied only in the contexts of one or another discipline (astronomy, Roman law, voluntarist theology, etc.); this group is the first to attempt an integrated account of the phenomenon.
|A daily diary of the weather kept in tabular form by the English philosopher John Locke from 1666-1703 in an attempt to discern natural regularities. MS. Locke d.9, Bodleian Library, Oxford|
Within this framework, Friedrich Steinle’s paper examines the diffusion of natural law concepts and vocabulary in late seventeenth-century English and French natural philosophy. These traditions show marked divergences, despite close contacts between French and English natural philosophers at the Paris Académie Royale des Sciences and the Royal Society of London. Whereas the English tended after 1660 to apply the term “natural law” broadly, with meanings ranging from a priori principles to empirical regularities, the French reserved loi de la nature for fundamental principles that undergirded a deductive system, on the model of the role of axioms in Euclidean geometry. Lorraine Daston investigated the tensions between the metaphysics of uniformity dictated by natural law and the undeniable fact of natural variability. This tension was particularly marked in the case of meteorology, a field in which decades of careful observation and new instruments largely failed to yield the sought-after natural laws of the weather. Indeed, the more copious and precise the data, the more difficult it became to discern regularities. In both papers, scientific practices of discovering and registering regularities in the form of rules, formulae, axioms, and tables are emphasized.
Discussion at the Berlin meeting focused on three major issues: (1) What kind of order is assumed by natural laws, and how does it differ from other forms of order, e.g. those generated by “customs” of either nature or society? (2) By what means can knowledge of natural laws be obtained - by self-evident intuitions, by empirical investigation, by deduction? (3) How are the normative and descriptive elements of natural laws intertwined with one another? Close attention was paid to the semantic fields formed around lex naturae and its cognates in early modern European vernaculars, which included not only alternative terms for regularities (e.g. regula), but also terms connoting certainty, necessity, and constancy. A third and final meeting to discuss revised papers was organized by Gerd Graßhoff with the support of the Universität Bern for February 2002. An English language publication edited by Lorraine Daston and Michael Stolleis is planned.
Members of Working Group:
Jean-Robert Armogathe (École pratique des hautes études, Sorbonne, Paris)
Lorraine Daston (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)
Gerd Graßhoff (Universität Bern)
Sachiko Kusukawa (Cambridge University)
Catherine Larrère (Université de Bordeaux III)
Klaus Luig (Universität Köln)
Ian Maclean (All Souls College, Oxford)
Heinz Mohnhaupt (Max Planck Institute for European Legal History, Frankfurt am Main)
Andreas Roth (Universität Mainz)
Sophie Roux (Centre Alexandre Koyré, Paris)
Jan Schröder (Universität Tübingen)
Friedrich Steinle (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)
Michael Stolleis (Max Planck Institute for European Legal History, Frankfurt am Main)
Hubert Treiber (Universität Hannover)
Anne-Charlott Trepp (Max Planck Institute for History, Göttingen)
Catherine Wilson (University of British Columbia)
Shana Brown, Deborah Coen, Lorraine Daston, Mechthild Fend, Peter Galison, Orit Halpern, Anke te Heesen, Christoph Holzhey, Caroline A. Jones, Cindy Klestinec, Charlotte Klonk, Angela Matyssek, Kate Palmer, Jieun Rhee, Antoinette Roesler-Friedenthal, Joel Snyder, Matthew Stanley, Norton Wise, Albena Yaneva. Short-term Visiting Scholars: Ludmilla Jordanova, Kenneth Goldberg
For the past decade, historians of science and art have noted points of intersection between scientific and artistic ways of rendering the natural world in images. Renaissance anatomists and artists collaborated on innovative studies of the human body; illustrated flora became as important to Enlightenment classification projects in botany as herbaria and botanical gardens; for nineteenth-century geologists and zoologists, learning to draw was a necessary training for learning to observe; contemporary computer techniques for visualizing genetic or astronomical data create images that artists have turned to their own purposes. However, because historians of science and art have traditionally analyzed different kinds of images, and from different disciplinary perspectives, there has been little sustained discussion about how to develop a shared vocabulary that does justice both to the epistemological and aesthetic content of images that straddle art and science. The purpose of the research group was to bring historians of art and science together who worked on images ranging from Renaissance anatomical illustrations to astro-photography to computer graphics in order to explore the interaction of the visual and the conceptual.
|Siphonophorae. From Ernst Haeckel, Kunstformen der Natur (Leipzig, 1899-1904)|
Cindy Klestinec examined the long after-life of the anatomical icons from Andreas Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica (1543), in the context of the interaction between anatomical studies and civic culture in the sixteenth-century Veneto.
Anke te Heesen explored the “collecting sciences,” from eighteenth-century natural specimens to
twentieth-century newspaper clippings (see related exhibition Cut and paste um 1900. Der Zeitungsausschnitt in den Künsten und Wissenschaften ), with special attention to connections between the material culture of collections (both in and out of museums) and the establishment of classification and order.
Also linked to museums and their classification schemes was Antoinette Roesler-Friedenthal’s investigation of how interactions between art history and the art market from the eighteenth century on have shaped the ordering of painters into schools and the practices of connoisseurship.
Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison continued their research into the images of scientific objectivity (see The History of Scientific Objectivity, ), particularly how photographs, maps, and the traces of self-registering instruments became identified with ideals of objective representation in the
Comparing aesthetic theories with scientific accounts of pleasure and pain in the emerging life sciences circa 1800, Christoph Holzhey inquires about shared models of vital organization, especially with respect to “paradoxical pleasures,” like the sublime, that border on pain. Two projects deal with the interactions between painterly and museum practice and scientific theories in the nineteenth century. In a comparative study of the flagship galleries of England, Germany, and the United States in the nineteenth century, Charlotte Klonk investigates the theories of color, both scientific and artistic, that motivated display schemes. Mechthild Fend looks at the representation of skin as a painted surface, particularly in the works of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Jean-François Millet, in the context of coeval medical conceptualizations of the skin and the cultural history of the body.
|Christoph Holzhey||Charlotte Klonk||Mechthild Fend||Albena Yaneva|
In her work on the twentieth-century American art critic Clement Greenberg, Caroline Jones linked modernism an artistic movement with the modernist segmentation of the body. Albena Yaneva analyzes how scale models are enlisted in architectural studios to persuade potential users
of the building, in a dialogue that modifies the building as well as the taste of the public, focusing on the case of Rem Koolhaas’ project for an extension of the Whitney Museum.
|The Parisian engraver and art dealer Pierre-François Basan in the midst of his work while Mercury, the god of commerce, pays him a friendly visit. From P.-F. Basan, Dictionnaire des Graveurs anciens et modernes depuis l’Origine de la Gravure (Paris, 1809, 1st ed. 1767)||Rejecting the lessons of artistic anatomy, Ingres depicted the skin as a smooth and hermetic surface, unrelated to any physical or psychological interior. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, “Madame Moitessier,” 1856. Oil on Canvas, National Gallery London|
|Scale models of the extension of the Whitney Museum of American Art in the studio of Rem Koolhaas, Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Rotterdam|
|Graphic notations of muscular shocks, from Etienne-Jules Marey, Du mouvement dans les fonctions de la vie (Paris, 1868)|
|An excerpt cupboard, illustrating how naturalists patterned their collections after the note-taking practice of scholars. From Vincent Placcius, De arte excerpendi: Vom Gelahrten Buchhalten (Stockholm/Hamburg, 1689)|
|The frontispiece of Plautus, Comoediae XX (Venice, 1511) inspired the classical, theatrical iconography of the frontispice of Vesalius’s De humani corporis fabrica, and provided Renaissance architects with a vision that lent dramatic shape to the permanent anatomy theater in Padua (1594) and to the increasingly spectacular practices of anatomical dissection|
Shana Brown (University of California at Berkeley, U.S.A.): Chinese Archaeology Confronts Western Historiography in Qing Dynasty Scholarship
Deborah Coen (Harvard University, U.S.A.): Probabilistic Reasoning, Color Theory, and Erziehung in the Exner Circle in Vienna
Orit Halpern (Harvard University, U.S.A.): Archives and Race: Technologies of Difference from Nineteenth-Century Criminology to Contemporary DNA Databanking
Angela Matyssek (Humboldt Universität, Berlin): Photography as a Research Tool in Art History: The Foto Marburg Archive
|Shana Brown||Deborah Coen||Orit Halpern||Angela Matyssek||Matthew Stanley|
Kate Palmer (Boston University, U.S.A.): The Artistic Use of Photographic Imagery to Reinterpret Media Events: Documentation and the Absent Subject
Jieun Rhee (Boston University, U.S.A.): Performing the Other: Asian Bodies in Performance and Video Art
Matthew Stanley (Harvard University, U.S.A.): Early Reception of General Relativity in Britain: Mathematical Aesthetics and the Natural Theological Tradition
Students from Harvard University were supported with funds from the Max Planck Society Research Prize awarded to Peter Galison.
(Organized by Lorraine Daston and H. Otto Sibum, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, ).
Historians of art and science share a common methodological problem: how to interpret objects - paintings, scientific instruments and models, natural specimens - in their historical contexts without obscuring their materiality, their thing-ness? Things always “talk,” in that cultures explain and interpret them. But can they made to speak for themselves, as brute objects? This working group addresses the challenge material culture poses to both disciplines by examining particular things - soap bubbles, a painting by Gauguin, botanical models - as both interpretable artefacts and concrete objects. Through three meetings (December 2001, March 2002, July 2002), the group
aims to produce a collection of essays on ten chosen objects from the realms of architecture, art, and science, and to develop a method of analyzing them that does equal justice to their symbolic-conceptual and material aspects. Also at issue is the relationship between text and image in the recent historiography of both art and science; the essays will explore ways of connecting the verbal and the visual that go beyond illustrative and ornamental.
Lorraine Daston (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)
Peter Galison (Harvard University, U.S.A.)
Anke te Heesen (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)
Caroline A. Jones (Boston University, U.S.A./Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin)
Joseph Koerner (University College London, U.K.)
Antoine Picon (École des Ponts et Chaussées, Paris)
Simon Schaffer (Cambridge University, U.K.)
Debora Silverman (University of California at Los Angeles, U.S.A.)
Joel Snyder (University of Chicago, U.S.A.)
Norton Wise (University of California at Los Angeles, U.S.A.)
|Anke te Heesen|
(Organized by Anke te Heesen, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, in collaboration with the Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum, with the support of the Hauptstadtkulturfonds Berlin)
The newspaper clipping collections of the physicist Ernst Gehrcke, the pathologist Rudolf Virchow, the neurologist Oskar Vogt, and the historian of technology Ernst Maria Feldhaus show the connections between modern notions of archival organization and the aesthetics of the collage, and between science and popular culture in the ephemeral medium of print. Anke te Heesen will
|Page from the newspaper clipping collection of the Berlin physicist Ernst Gehrcke, 1921. Library of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science|
edit a special issue of the journal Kaleidoskopien for media studies, history of science, and performance art to accompany the exhibition, with the following articles (preliminary titles):
Thomas Schnalke: Rudolf Virchow und seine Sammelleidenschaft
Marcus Popplow: Ernst Maria Feldhaus: Bruchstücke zu einer Technikgeschichte
Dieter Hoffmann: Ernst Gehrcke gegen Albert Einstein: Der Zeitungsausschnitt als Gegenargument
Michael Hagner: “Mit der Tagespresse sich zu befassen, ist nicht jedermanns Geschmack.” Oskar Vogt und die Öffentlichkeit des Gehirns.
Anke te Heesen: Wie sammeln Wissenschaftler ihre Notizen und Informationen? Über die Ursprünge von Zeitungsausschnittsammlungen
Lorraine Daston: Der Wissenschaftler und sein Papier. Wie Fakten zustande kommen
Interview mit dem Biologen und Wissenschaftshistoriker Mikulás Teich, Cambridge über seine Zeitungsausschnittsammlung
Interview mit Luzia Hertweck und ihre Arbeit in einem Berliner Pressedienst
Interview mit der Schriftstellerin Herta Müller und ihrem literarischen Umgang mit Zeitungsausschnitten und -schnipseln
Katalog der Objekte
David Bloor, Lorraine Daston, Nadine de Courtenay, Matthias Dörries, Peter Galison, Wolfgang Küttler, Annette Vogt, Paul S. White
This ongoing project seeks to reconstruct the ideals and practices of scientific objectivity in historical context. The premise of the project is that scientific objectivity has a history, and a relatively short one, emerging in the middle decades of the nineteenth century. The history of the word “objectivity” is suggestive in this context. Its cognates in European languages derive from the Latin adverbial or adjectival form objectivus/objective, introduced by fourteenth-century scholastic philosophers such as Duns Scotus and William of Occam. (The substantive form does not emerge until much later, around the turn of the nineteenth century.) From the very beginning, it was always paired with subjectivus/ subjective, but the terms originally meant almost precisely the opposite of what they mean now. “Objective” referred to things as they are presented to consciousness, whereas “subjective” referred to things in themselves. The words “objective” and “subjective” fell into disuse during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, invoked only occasionally as technical terms by metaphysicians and logicians. It was Kant who dusted off the musty scholastic terminology of “objective” and “subjective,” and breathed new life and new meanings into them. Only in the 1820s and 1830s did dictionary entries first in German, then in French, and later in English begin to define the words “objectivity” and “subjectivity” in something like the (to us) familiar sense, often with a nod in the direction of Kantian philosophy.
Current usage in several European languages packs a crowd of meanings - moral meanings, methodological meanings, metaphysical meanings - into the word “objectivity” and its various cognates. Viewed in its specific contexts of usage, objectivity is a complex and not wholly coherent concept. However, viewed from a level of high generality, these multiple meanings of objectivity do converge in a common sense: all forms of objectivity seek to combat some aspect of the self, as not only subjective but as dangerously subjective. This is why objectivity and subjectivity are, since Kant, an inseparable pair, like concave and convex, each defining the other. Epistemology - the philosophical diagnosis of possible obstacles to knowledge - is older and broader than objectivity. Objectivity arises from the fear that certain facets of the self pose the greatest threat to knowledge. But in the long philosophical tradition of epistemology, this is only one of many fears about how we can fail to achieve knowledge. Scientific objectivity occupies such a central and commanding place in our modern catechism of epistemological virtues that it threatens to swallow up all other aims that might guide scientific inquiry. But the quest for scientific objectivity is not necessarily or even historically identical to the quest for truth or certainty or explanatory breadth or mathematical deep structures in the understanding of nature. Sometimes scientific objectivity coincides with these other epistemological virtues, but sometimes it conflicts with them: that is, it is possible to imagine (and to instantiate historically) concrete cases in which scientists may be forced to choose between, for example, a commitment to truth and a commitment to objectivity.
Peter Galison and Lorraine Daston expanded their earlier work on the images associated with objectivity to include maps as well as photography. Scientific objectivity was born in the mid-nineteenth century; indeed, it was twice-born. Each form of objectivity arose to counteract specific and different aspects of the personal in science, and each was constituted by a characteristic ethos and by equally characteristic techniques and procedures. Also characteristic were the images produced by each, the mechanically reproduced photograph and the communally constructed map, which were at once emblematic and constitutive of their respective ideals. Both mechanical and communitarian objectivities were deeply moralized, reforming the persona as well as the protocols of the scientist, but here as well each imposed a distinctive ethos of self-discipline. Mechanical objectivity countered the subjectivity of projection onto nature, including scientific judgment and aesthetic idealization. Communitarian objectivity countered the subjectivity of idiosyncracy and parochialism, not only of the individual scientist, but also of research groups.
|French astronomers Prosper and Paul Henry observe through the refracting telescope in Paris as part of an international collaboration to map the heavens begun in 1887. From Observatoire de Paris, La Mesure du ciel (1987)|
Mechanical and communitarian objectivity addressed different epistemological problems in science. Upholders of mechanical objectivity worried about how human intervention might distort natural phenomena; upholders of communitarian objectivity fretted about how anthropocentric scales of time and space might fail to register certain phenomena altogether.
|Self-registering instrument used by the nineteenth- century physiologist Etienne-Jules Marey to study the flight of birds without the mediation of a human observer. From Marey, Le vols des oiseaux (Paris, 1890)|
Their metaphysics differed accordingly. Scientists most alarmed by intervention focused on the individual phenomenon in all its here-and-now concreteness, and regarded composites with suspicion. Those most fearful of Lilliputian parochialism pieced together their often invisible objects from reports filed from around the world over decades, and branded the individual phenomenon misleading. If the emblem of mechanical objectivity was the unretouched photograph, the emblem of communitarian objectivity was the global map - of the whole earth or even the entire dome of the heavens - composed like a mosaic by a community of farflung observers each contributing a fragment. Mechanical and communitarian objectivities also dictated subtly different scientific moralities, each intent on suppressing a different feature of the self. Whereas mechanical objectivity exhorted its practitioners to austere self-restraint in judgment and interpretation in the name of authenticity, communitarian objectivity demanded the equally severe curtailment of individual and/or local autonomy in choice of instruments, methods, and even research topics, in the name of solidarity. Objectivity always suppresses some aspect of the personal, but which aspect differs according to the kind of epistemological error that is most feared.
The element of the personal in science may also be expressed in terms of the personal characteristics of scientists. “Impersonality,” or blindness to individual traits such as nationality, religion, race, or sex is a scientific ideal closely allied to that of objectivity. Annette Vogt’s comprehensive survey of women scientists at Berlin University and the institutes of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft (1898-1945) sought to answer the question of how the ideals and practices of early twentieth-century scientific research, particularly those of objectivity, promoted the recruitment and participation of women in surprisingly large numbers, as she was able to establish through archival research in the records of the Berlin University, the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (successor to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft), and the Academic Assistance Council (Oxford). She also studied how many women were expelled from laboratories after 1933, and their subsequent careers both in Germany and in exile. Documentation of women completing doctorates and habilitations at the Berlin University continued, and partially incorporated into an exhibition at the Humboldt Universität Berlin on “Von der Ausnahme zur Alltäglichkeit. Frauen an der Universität Unter den Linden” (1 December 1999 - 13 January 2000). Further research will attempt to expand the study from biographies of individual women scientists to a prosopography revealing their intellectual and social backgrounds, and to investigate the culture of gender relations at Berlin’s foremost scientific institutions during the first half of the twentieth century.
|The Kaiser Wilhelm Institut für Hirnforschung appointed considerable numbers of women scientists and couples of scientists. Visible in this photograph ca. 1931 are Cécile and Oskar Vogt, and Elena and Nikolaj Timoféeff-Ressovsky. Archiv zur Geschichte der Max- Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin|
The role of national traditions was the question addressed by David Bloor’s study of British, German, and American aircraft detection systems in World War I. Taking the comments of the Cambridge psychologist F.C. Bartlett, Bloor attempts to explain the striking differences in the technical systems developed in terms of the social components involved in their construction.
William Clark examined the transformation of academic and scientific knowledge in the German cultural space from early modern “erudition” to modern “research.” This transformation took place largely through the constitution of “figures of knowledge” deemed objective, such as lists, tables, questionnaires, the grading system, and dossiers operative in the framing and evaluation of academic knowledge and of academics themselves. Emmanuel Didier’s dissertation on the introduction of sampling techniques into statistics, focussing on developments in the United States between the two World Wars, also emphasized how the creation of a new, objective tool of measurement transformed the object it was built to measure.
Objectivity’s flight from the personal is often expressed as an escape from perspective, as a “view from nowhere.” This description has created special methodological tensions within the human sciences, insofar as they are simultaneously committed to objectivity and perspectivity.
Wolfgang Küttler’s monograph on the relation between perspectivity, objectivity, and historicity in the work of Max Weber explores this tension in three contexts: first, practical life in relation to the sciences; second, the subject matter of the historical sciences of culture and society; and third, the functions of science in modern society. Weber’s own methodology, as well as keen appreciation of the historical impact of modern science, prompted his investigations of the historical development and current state of science. Famously, he held science to be a historical and cultural activity centrally implicated in the processes of rationalization and disenchantment that formed the modern world. The implications of Weber’s historical and philosophical inquiries into the nature of modern science were wide-ranging, including the recovery of the unity of scientific and cultural knowledge, the problem of the relationship between history and scientific progress, the interaction of science and value-formation in a “disenchanted” world, and the
chances for objectivity in a value-dominated society.
Matthias Dörries completed his book on The Future of Science in Nineteenth-Century France, which examines four visions of this future: democratic, objective, religious, economic. Pursuing the theme of objectivity further, he investigated the remarkable career of French experimentalist Henri-Victor Regnault, whose unswerving dedication to precise measurements and search for an objectivity based upon purity trapped him in a circle of endless, inconclusive repetitions of experiments. Robert M. Brain continued his research on the graphic method in the natural sciences, seeking to understand why methods of self-recording instrumentation became a central fixture of 19th century science, technology, and medicine, as well as the emergence of the imperative to replace human perception with machines wherever possible as a guarantee of
|Paul S. White|
authoritative scientific knowledge. Paul S. White looked at a different side of objectivity in scientific experiment: the Victorian debate over animal experimentation, especially its impact on the sensibility of the scientist performing the experiments. Such psychological elements are usually considered to be alien to both logic and science, following Frege’s anti-psychologistic position. Nadine de Courtenay’s research, however, points to an alternative, distinctively Austrian tradition of objectivity in late nineteenth-century physics that drew upon the work of Ludwig Boltzmann. In this tradition, particularly in the work of Aloïs Höfler, language and conceptual representations formed an alternative source of scientific objectivity, neither ontological nor epistemological.
(Organized by Claudia Swan, Northwestern University/MPIWG, and Fernando Vidal, MPIWG, in collaboration with the Program in the Study of Imagination, Northwestern University)
One of Goya’s famous Caprichos, published in 1799, is inscribed, “The sleep of reason produces monsters.” As the artist explained, “Fancy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters.
United with reason, it is mother of the arts and origin of the wonders.” In the course of the eighteenth century, the call to unite imagination with the understanding and judgment in order to prevent the pathogenic “sleep of reason” was by no means limited to esthetics. In the system of mental faculties, the imagination was closely connected not only to sensation, but also to attention, memory, and reason. As the bridge between the senses on the one hand, and the will and the understanding on the other, it was considered as a potential source of moral and cognitive error, but was also put to a variety of positive intellectual, medical, and educational usages. The workshop aims to explore the epistemological and anthropological significance of the imagination in the period ca. 1650-1800, asking such questions as, How was the imagination controlled and used in different domains; what roles did it fulfill in regimes of self and body; how did it relate to conduct and desire; what structured discourses about it; how did it function in specific instances? how did experiences of the imagination embodied concerns and problems that structured debates in philosophy, theology, esthetics, the arts, and the natural and human sciences?
Brenno Boccadoro (Université de Genève, Switzerland)
Benjamin Braude (Boston College, U.S.A.)
Mary Campbell (Brandeis University, U.S.A.)
Silvia Contarini (Università degli Studi di Bologna, Italy)
Lucia Dacome (Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London, U.K.)
Julia Douthwaite (University of Notre Dame, U.S.A.)
Gabriele Dürbeck (Universität Rostock)
Jan Goldstein (University of Chicago, U.S.A.)
Jean-Marie Goulemot (Université de Tours, France / Johns Hopkins University, U.S.A.)
Laurent Loty (Université de Rennes, France)
Jochen Schulte-Sasse (University of Minnesota, U.S.A.)
Claudia Swan (Northwestern University, U.S.A. / MPIWG, Berlin)
Fernando Vidal (MPIWG, Berlin)
Carsten Zelle (Ruhr-Universität-Bochum)
|The imagination recoils from her reflection upon noticing the insects - symbols of foolish ideas - that fly around her head. Detail of emblem 185, Des berühmten italiänischen Ritters Caesaris Ripae allerley Künsten und Wissenschaften dienliche Sinnbilder und Gedancken (Augsburg, 1758-1760)|
(Organized by Gianna Pomata, Università degli Studi di Bologna, and Nancy Siraisi, Hunter College of the City University of New York)
The working group will investigate the various meanings that the term historia had in the early modern vocabulary of knowledge, and the roles that historia played in early modern encyclopedism. Loosely meant as a truthful, or supposedly truthful, narrative of the results of an inquiry - any inquiry - historia featured prominently in disciplines ranging from antiquarian studies and historiography to medicine and natural philosophy. In striking contrast with the modern use of the term, the early modern “history” straddled the distinction between human and natural subjects; from the Renaissance to the eighteenth century, nature was fully part of the field of research called historia. However, most studies of early modern intellectual life have focused exclusively on historia as civil history, the sense closest to modern usage. Well known and much studied are the humanist revaluation of the rhetorical and moral uses of political and civil history, as well as the new attention to methods of writing about the past signalled by Bodin and the artes historicae. The emerging importance of disciplinary histories, the new genre of confessional history, and the institution of chairs or lectureships of history in universities and academies have also been studied as signs of the increasing significance attached to historia in this period. But these studies concentrate on historia as civil history, which was only one aspect of the intellectual currency of the term in the early modern period.
By contrast, the role historia played in early modern natural philosophy and medicine has been much less studied. Here, as also in the humanities, the term covered a variety of meanings. It is well known that a prominent feature of early modern science was the rapid and exponential growth of historia naturalis, but it would be more correct to talk of a proliferation of natural histories - in the plural - all with different philosophical pedigrees and correspondingly different notions of what historia was about. Aristotelian and Plinian models of natural history, to give the most obvious example, implied very different concepts of historia. In medicine also - a discipline whose connections with history were long ago noted by Arnaldo Momigliano - historia enjoyed a special vogue. A veritable explosion of clinical and anatomical reports written in the historia format began in the sixteenth century, genres that proliferated still further in the following century. Case histories (called historiae or observationes ) and autopsy narratives multiplied, while in anatomy the term historia acquired a specific and even technical meaning. When Fabricius of Acquapendente or William Harvey, for instance, wrote the results of their anatomical investigations, they regularly started with what they called a historia, meaning a thorough description of the structure of bodily parts, preliminary to an understanding of their function, or “use.” The anatomists, historia in this sense clearly differed from historia as casus, the report of an individual case-history, a usage circulated by Renaissance commentators on Hippocrates’s Epidemics. Thus, within the field of medicine, too, historia could have different meanings, signalling different intellectual practices and objectives.
A first goal of the project is to reconstruct and compare the various meanings and uses of historia in both natural knowledge and the humanities (including legal language) from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. In all its varieties, historia carried a strong empiricist connotation: it meant sensata cognitio, knowledge based on sense perception, as well as the report thereof. Historia was an epistemological category but was also what could be called an “epistemic genre,” a specialized way of writing down knowledge. In general, in the early modern descriptive sciences - among which much of medicine and its ancillary disciplines may be included - the use of narrative historiae served to support claims to empiricism. Investigating meanings and uses of historia, in consequence, means to explore the varieties and specificities of early modern empiricism and of early modern concepts of experience.
Ann Blair (Harvard University, U.S.A.)
Silvia De Renzi (Open University, U.K.)
Giovanna Ferrari (Istituto Professionale di Stato per l’Industria e l’Artigianato “Fermo Conti,” Modena, Italy)
Anthony Grafton (Princeton University, U.S.A.)
Donald Kelley (Rutgers University, U.S.A.)
Ian Maclean (All Souls College, Oxford, U.K.)
Peter Miller (Bard Graduate Center, New York, U.S.A.)
Martin Mulsow (Universität München, Germany)
Brian Ogilvie (University of Massachusetts at Amherst, U.S.A.)
Laurent Pinon (École Normale Supérieure, Paris, France)
Gianna Pomata (Università degli Studi di Bologna, Italy)
Nancy Siraisi (Hunter College at the City University of New York, U.S.A.)
(Organized by Lorraine Daston, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)
Within cultural traditions that distinguish between knowledge and belief, the relationship between the two terms has been conceived in dramatically different ways. In Plato’s metaphor of the divided line, episteme and doxa are qualitatively distinct states, immiscible with and in a rigidly hierarchical relationship to one another. Within Christian theology of the High Middle Ages, in for example the works of Saint Bonaventure, knowledge and belief converge, and the hierarchy is reversed: belief in the true God and doctrine are superior in certainty and clarity to any knowledge won through the exercise of human reason. Whereas belief can confer knowledge (as in the case of revelation), knowledge alone, even the most subtle and rigorous theology, cannot achieve belief without grace. And in the works of early modern European philosophers such as Locke and Leibniz, knowledge and belief are represented as degrees along a continuum: knowledge occupies an extreme point, referring to mental possessions that are true, certain, and warranted; belief pertains to a swathe of points that approach but do not attain that extreme pole, ranging from opinion to conviction, and buttressed by more or less evidence. On this construction, the relationship between knowledge and belief parallels that between certainty and probability. Even this small sample drawn from a culturally circumscribed tradition suffices to indicate the plasticity of the knowledge/belief relationship.
The purpose of the research project on Knowledge and Belief would be to explore this protean relationship in a broad range of historical and cultural contexts, with the aim of articulating and comparing models of these two fundamental epistemological states. Within the history of science, the relationship between knowledge and belief has usually been more narrowly construed as that between science and religion. The research project on Knowledge and Belief would include this topic (construed more ecumenically that has usually been the case in the historiography of science heretofore), but would also embrace cases that are not so tidily subsumed under that rubric. What kind of belief do myths command? How is scientific knowledge, understood to be certain and enduring, to be reconciled with scientific progress, which holds all doctrines to be in principle revisable? Under what circumstances does an ethics and discipline of belief emerge, requiring on moral as well as rational grounds the apportionment of assent to evidence? How is knowledge extracted from testimony, especially in cases in which the experience of the witness is effectively nonreplicable - travelers to exotic lands, mystical visionaries, virtuoso experimenters, tellers of dreams, historians of vanished cultures? In what contexts are religious and secular claims to knowledge and belief compatible or incompatible, and why? Can belief be compelled; does knowledge always demand proof, and what kind? What is the relationship, both in theory and practice, between knowledge, belief, and action?
A planning meeting was held 30-31 May 2001 to discuss the project with the following participants:
Mary B. Campbell (Brandeis University, U.S.A.)
Lorraine Daston (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)
Rivka Feldhay (Tel Aviv University, Israel)
Scott Mandelbrote (Cambridge University, U.K.)
Jamil Ragep (University of Oklahoma, U.S.A.)
Joan Richards (Brown University, U.S.A.)
Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann (Freie Universität, Berlin)
Fernando Vidal (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)
Sonja Brentjes continued her project on the interchanges, communication, and co-operation between scholarly communities in early modern Europe and the Near East, focusing on geographical and astronomical knowledge. Myles Jackson continued work on his book about the exchanges among musicians, physicists, and musical and scientific instrument makers in the German territories between 1780 and 1870. He examined the physicists’s standardization of aesthetic qualities, their attempts to explain musical virtuosity and the pianist’s touch, their efforts to improve musical instrument design, and the use of choral-society songs by German Naturforscher. (Scientific Persona Project: see Annual Report 1998-99). Maureen McNeil pursued research for her book on the methodological, theoretical and political dimension of the cultural studies of technoscience. In addition to reworking several chapters, she examined in particular relevant new developments in the history of science and recent debates about cultural history. Through her comparative research on the institutional and domestic practices of early modern astrology and astronomy, Monika Mommertz examined the social and cognitive functions of methods and techniques, with a particular interest in how the integration and exclusion of non-scientific culture influenced knowledge production and attitudes to knowing. (Scientific Persona Project: see Annual Report 1998-99). René Sigrist studied experimental systems and cultures of experimentation in eighteenth-century Geneva, especially in the work of Charles Bonnet and Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, with a focus on experimental strategies, and the rhetoric of proof and persuasion (Scientific Persona Project: see Annual Report 1998-99). With support from the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften Balkan-Initiative, Svetlana Slapsak continued her research on the representation and display of intelligence of hetairai, the accomplished courtesans of ancient Athens, distinguished from prostitutes, and often more educated than the respectable wives and daughters sequestered at home. (Scientific Persona Project: see Annual Report 1998-99).
|Sonja Brentjes||Maureen McNeil||Monika Mommertz|