Descartes Agonistes

John A. Schuster’s Research, Textbooks, Reviews and Occasional Pieces on the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Scientific Knowledge.

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Conference, Seminar Papers

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My remarks at Glebe Books, Sydney, August 2008 at launch of Ross Honeywill's book Lamarck's Evolution which includes a great deal of material on Australian neo-Lamarckian molecular geneticist Ted Steele's scientific career and the infamous 'Steele' affair at the University of Wollongong (attempted peremptory dismissal for whistleblowing on soft marking of fee paying foreign students)...read on.

From Natural Philosophy to Sciences: Transformations, Not Ruptures in Early Modern Knowledge Networks --the Disputed Case of the Early Royal Society: Conference of ARC Network of Early European Researchers [NEER] July 2007

J. A. Schuster: What was Early 17th Century Physico-Mathematics, for Quadrennial Conference of the US, UK and Canadian History of Science Societies, Keble College Oxford, July 2008: Double Session on Connecting Disciplines: Mathematics, Natural Philosophy and Reason in the Early-Modern Era, organised by Stephen Gaukroger and John Schuster.

 

Invited public talk, concluding the afternoon session of the Nacht van Descartes of the University of Utrecht, Descartes Center for the History of the Natural Sciences and Humanities, 2 October 2008.  Full title Descartes agonistes: The 'Real' Descartes Stands Up--How the agendas, identities, rebellions, successes, failures and delusions of 'youth' (1618-33) generated the historians' mature Descartes

This paper, based in part on work originally pursued with Dr Alan B. H. Taylor, examines how knowledge claims were manufactured and communicated at the early Royal Society. We approach the problem by studying the organisational features and dynamics of the Society—its organisationally sedimented patterns of decision-making and action-taking. This work cuts across attempts by Shapin to characterise ‘the new Experimental Science’ in terms of a supposedly new 'form of life' which purportedly broke with the previously dominant culture of natural philosophical contention.

Shapin (and many of his followers) see the Royal Society as having been functionally taken over by this 'experimental life'. Using three case studies of experimental projects at the Society, we argue that the institution was more complex in its internal workings and that the Europe-wide, contested, culture of natural philosophy continued to play through and be played upon within the Royal Society, particularly by dominant actors, such as Boyle and Hooke, who could navigate and exploit the decision/action pathways. We conclude by proposing modifications to Shapin's concepts of the 'matter of fact' and 'epistemological decorum', and by pointing out strong parallels to our findings in recent work by Luciano Boschiero on the Accademia del Cimento.

 

file icon On Bruno Latour as Historianhot!Tooltip 05/27/2012 Hits: 2891

This paper on the historiographical implications of Latour’s early work was originally delivered at 1989 Conference of the Australasian Assoc for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science, Robertson, NSW, and then published in a set of working papers on ‘Deconstructing Bruno Latour’ by the University of Wollongong STS Research Group. I believe it may still exist somewhere on their research site, but I choose to make it somewhat less ‘obscure’ here.