Vossius Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences

Vossius Seminar

22May2018 15:00 - 17:15


At the next Vossius Seminar PhD candidate Sjang ten Hagen (University of Amsterdam) and Professor H. Floris Cohen (Utrecht University) will present their research.


15.00-16.00: Sjang ten Hagen

The intertwined histories of the concept ‘fact’ in German physics and historiography

The ‘fact’ is a relatively novel concept with a tumultuous history, during which it acquired many different interpretations. In my talk, I discuss the emergence and shifting interpretations of the concept ‘fact’ in German learned culture around 1800, particularly in physics and historiography. I show that German historians and physicists adopted the ‘fact’ more or less simultaneously and for similar reasons. This illustrates the general point that, while establishing autonomous academic disciplines, scientists and humanists drew upon similar conceptual repertoires. Finally, I explore the impact of the late 19th-century rise of theoretical physics as a sub-discipline on prevailing interpretations of the 'fact' among German physicists.

16.15-17.15: H. Floris Cohen

How versatile can a scholar be? Some remarks about Max Weber and Music

Max Weber (1864 – 1920) is rightly known, not only as an economist, a political scientist, a co-founder of sociology, a sociologist of religion, an economic historian, an ancient historian, a historian of religion, and a cultural historian, but also as a keen thinker about method in the social sciences and the humanities and about the place of ‘values’ in these sciences. Nor does this impressive list exhaust the ways in which his life’s work can be categorized. To the extent that an overarching theme can be identified in his work, it is the famous (or infamous) question of what has set Western civilization in its development over time apart from the other great civilizations of the world — a question that Weber addressed chiefly by means of an extended investigation of what he called ‘the economic ethics of the world religions’ (‘Die Wirtschaftsethik der Weltreligionen’). But Weber’s very first approach to this central question of his (and this is what my presentation will be about) sent him to one further, rather unexpected domain of his scholarly competence — the cross-culturally comparative history of the theory and practice of music.

17.15: Drinks

Venue: Artis Library

  • Artis Bibliotheek

    Plantage Middenlaan 45-45 A | 1018 DC Amsterdam
    +31 (0)20 525 6611

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Published by  Vossius Center