Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universitaet Frankfurt am Main
Call for Papers International Conference Philosophies of Technology: Francis Bacon and his Contemporaries Frankfurt am Main, July 7/8, 2006 Preparatory Committee: Dr. Gisela Engel, Zentrum zur Erforschung der Fruehen Neuzeit, Dr. Nicole C. Karafyllis, Institut für Polytechnik/Arbeitslehre und politische Bildung, Dr. Claus Zittel, SFB/FK 435 Wissenskultur und gesellschaftlicher Wandel, Teilprojekt D 4: Formen und Funktionen ästhetischer Generierung von Wissen in der Frühen Neuzeit Dott. Romano Nanni, Director of the Museo Leonardiano (Vinci)
Current developments and events call for a widening of our intellectual horizons and especially for including Europe historically and in perspectives into our debates. What is “Europe” and how did it take shape? Which traditions are shared by “Europeans”? Do technology and technical developments belong to what we could consider as a shared European cultural heritage? How do we experience this cultural heritage and and which role do we want to assign to it for a common European future? We would like to invite you to discuss with us some of the problems involved by contributing to a proposed conference on Francis Bacon, his contemporaries, forerunners and followers.
Francis Bacon and the Baconian sciences contributed — as is generally accepted – to European sciences and philosophy by successfully suggesting and propagating experiments and controlled observations as fundamental for empiricist research. This was linked to new visions of nature and the world inaugurated by technical innovations and inventions.
There are, of course, highly illuminating studies on the technical developments in the Renaissance and in Early Modernity, on the importance of technical models for epistemology and for other theoretical problems such as political theory (clockworks and clockwork metaphors) or theories about the human body (automata). Research has focussed on clockworks, vacuum pumps and automata, but there is a wealth of other technical models used and experimented with in the Leonardo- and Bacon-inspired philosophical communities that calls for a revision of an assumed clear-cut mechanistic paradigm.
In order to do this we would like to focus on two aspects:
1. The impact of technical models for structuring knowledge production in natural philosophy, natural history and the philosophy of history Technical innovations – as effected or envisioned – call for and make possible new world views. They generate the urge for a revision of traditional assumptions and at the same time they offer explanations. We would like to discuss the following questions: How did technical models serve as explanatory models for the world at large? What were the implications of using them as such? Which technical models (apart from clockworks, vacuum pumps and automata) were debated as explanatory models in Early Modern scientific discourse (thermo- or hydrondynamic models such as oven, destillating apparatusses, mills, looms, paper producing machines, printing machines, mining technology)? What is the impact of technical innovations on the debate about nature, arts and techne? What is the role of technical innovations in magical theory and practise? And what is their impact for the new concepts of the history and progress?
2.. Technical developments in the Renaissance and Early Modernity
We would like to contextualize the epistemological problems and raise the following questions: Which were the technical inventions? Which regions of nowadays Europe contributed to technical developments? Which economic/ political sectors produced technical innovations ( agriculture, forestry, architecture, textile industry, the military, manufactures, domestic production)? Who was interested in technical developments ? Was there a transfer of innovations throughout “Europe”? How was it effected? Can we observe contacts between European regions and with the peripheries? Which were the effects of colonialism? How and why were techical innovations supported by whom? Was there an articulated resistance to technical innovations?
Bacon advocated a scientific ideal inspired by cooperation in the service of the public weal which, however, did not include “the public” as controlling the technical know how. Was this a Baconian idea or does it indicate the general limitations of his times in regard to restrictions regulating the access to and command of technical and scientific knowledge?
Please let us have your title, an abstract (max. 30 lines) and biobliographical information (max. 25 lines) by November 1, 2005, to one of the following email addresses: Dr. Gisela Engel <[email protected]> Dr. Nicole C. Karafyllis” <[email protected]> Dr. Claus Zittel <[email protected]>