This course is open to MA students in Philosophy, who have been admitted to the specialisation History and Philosophy of the Sciences.
Prerequisites: Philosophy of Science.
Western knowledge and understanding of the natural world changed between 1550 and 1700. This period is conventionally called the “scientific revolution”. From one perspective, this period witnessed the development of many concepts used in present-day science, such as the concepts of law of nature, experiment, force, and planet, as well as the idea of modern science itself. From another perspective, however, the concerns and activities of natural philosophers of this period strike us as strange. In part, this strangeness is related to the social contexts in which they worked. In this course, we will switch repeatedly between the perspectives of familiarity and unfamiliarity to gain a fuller understanding of how people knew nature in early-modern Europe.
A student who has successfully completed this course is able to:
describe the state of the European sciences around 1550;
provide a narrative of the principal changes in the European sciences between 1550 and 1700;
discuss how selected museum artefacts exemplify and illustrate the historical development;
place the period 1550–1700 within the broader history of Western science;
discuss key schools and currents including: Aristotelianism, Copernicanism, mechanism, Cartesianism, experimental philosophy, Newtonianism;
reflect on the historiography of the “scientific revolution” and compare different historiographic interpretations of the period 1550–1700;
give a class presentation and write a paper on the above topics;
discuss the tension between Whiggish and anti-Whiggish orientations in history of science, using the period 1550–1700 as an illustration;
design and present a PhD-level research proposal on the topics of the course.
Mode of instruction
- Lectures and seminars
Class attendance is required.
Total course load (10 EC x 28 hrs): 280 hours
Class attendance: 14 × 3 hours = 42 hours
Reworking of class notes: 14 hours
Literature study (approx. 500 pages): 70 hours
Preparation for class presentation: 24 hours
Museum assignment: 10 hours
Writing of research proposal/final essay: 120 hours
Two compulsory presentations during the semester
Two shorter papers
Oral class participation.
One resit will be offered, covering the entire course content and consisting of a paper. The grade will replace previously earned grades for subtests. Class participation and practical assignments (presentations) are mandatory requirements for taking the tests and resit. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination(s) cannot take the resit.
Blackboard is used for posting course material.
- John Henry, The Scientific Revolution and the Origins of Modern Science. 2nd ed. Palgrave, 2002.
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