At the next Vossius Seminar Herman Paul (Leiden University) and Christina Brandt (Ruhr-University Bochum) will present their research. Herman Paul: 'Scholarly Vices: Early Modern Language in Modern Scientific Discourse' and Christina Brandt: 'The "premature arrival of the future": Temporalities in the 1970s debates on life sciences and culture'.
Scholarly Vices: Early Modern Language in Modern Scientific Discourse
Why do scientists evaluate each other’s work in terms that are often centuries old? For instance, when charges of “speculation,” “dogmatism,” or “prejudice” are made, as happens frequently in the heat of controversy, the terms invoked are classic ones: their genealogies reach back at least into the sixteenth century (even though the specific meanings associated with them may be of younger date). This is remarkable, given that historians of science often stress the deep changes brought about by Kantian conceptions of subjectivity, which supposedly rendered early modern virtues and vices largely obsolete. Add to this that many fields of science did not emerge before the 19th or 20th centuries, that those with older roots were often home to scenes of “ritual patricide,” that vices as an overall category has largely been displaced by deficient skills or lacking competences, and that ideas as to what classifies as a vice are highly culturally specific, and there is ample reason to wonder: Why do modern scientists, consciously or not, still draw on early modern language of vice? What is that makes these age-old categories attractive to modern scientists?
The "premature arrival of the future": Temporalities in the 1970s debates on life sciences and culture