HomeStyles and Method in the Early-Modern and the Modern Period

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Published on Tuesday, March 15, 2022 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

This seminar explores the hypothesis that a distinctive link between style and ways of thinking was formed between the early modern and the modern periods – one that not only played a specific role in the emergence of philology as a model for knowledge but also in discussions of scientific method.

Announcement

Event format

  • Online Seminar
  • Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia – Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage
  • Link zoom: unive.zoom.us/j/6569494316

Organizer

Matteo Vagelli

Further information: matteo.vagelli@unive.it

Programme

April 11, 2022

17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

  • Carlotta Santini, CNRS Reading well, writing well, living well. Friedrich Nietzsche and the question of style

The reflection on style in Nietzsche's philosophical work cannot be circumscribed to a specific period. It is in fact one of the most important leitmotifs of his œuvre, whose treatment, almost never systematic, is entrusted to anecdotes, mottos and quick remarks. Starting with his first study of the complex artificiality and conventionality of ancient literatures, Nietzsche lays the foundations for his future reflections on philosophical language and the great style. This "dispersed" form, however, in no way diminishes the theoretical weight of the considerations on style and modes of writing in Nietzsche's work. The aesthetic paradigm of the Greek literary work, its rigid formalism and exaggerated normativity to which the entire expressive potential of the artwork was entrusted, increasingly takes the form of an ethical paradigm in Nietzsche's reflection. The "unnatural naturalness" of the great style, the creative freedom within the closed realm of convention, which Nietzsche borrows from the experience of ancient rhetoric, drives him to conceive, through words and writings, an ethics of self-determination, a character-shaping action of stylistic choices. In contrast to the popular view according to which Nietzsche is the philosopher of irrationality, he concentrates all his efforts on the codification of a theory of education and self-control, self-determination, which affects not only writing, but also thinking and character, and thus aspires to achieve radical transformations in the human form of life. 

April 26, 2022

17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

  • Raz Chen-Morris, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Fantasy, Scientific Thought and the End of Baroque Science 

Since the early phases of the New Science, natural philosophers and mathematicians embraced fantastical stories and imaginary scenarios in order to undermine the traditional and well-entrenched Aritotelian and Ptolemaic systems of the world. Whether in Kepler's  Somnium, or Galileo imaginary experiments, or Descartes' fictitious world-system, the assumption was that, in Shakepeare's words, only by "transfiguring" the audience's mind "so together" can a great constancy  grow. This utopian notion that in traveling to another fantastical place one can learn the truth about one's own world pervaded much of 17th century scientific thought in its aspiration to fashion a new world-picture. Beginning with the 1660's, however, the notion of a fantastic travel became leverage for criticizing and exposing the vain presumptuousness of the "New Science". Margaret Cavendish, in her Blazing World, blatantly attacked the Royal Society, mocking its reliance on such instruments as the telescope and the microscope. The Jesuit Gabriel Daniel, in his Voiage du Monde de Descartes, used the trope of space traveling to ridicule the French philosophers' system of the world. Thus, at the end of the 17th century, leading savants such as Fontenelle or Huygens turned to speculate on planetary worlds, marginalizing the role of fantasy and instead seeking to establish a new astronomical and physical commonsense.    

May 2, 2023

17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

  • Denis Kambouchner, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne Du style en philosophie, à partir de Descartes – entretien avec Denis Kambouchner

May 12, 2023

17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

  • Emilie Passignat, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia Manner: Connoisseurship and Taxonomy, Individual and Collective Identity

Since the early phases of the New Science, natural philosophers and mathematicians embraced fantastical stories and imaginary scenarios in order to undermine the traditional and well-entrenched Aritotelian and Ptolemaic systems of the world. Whether in Kepler's  Somnium, or Galileo imaginary experiments, or Descartes' fictitious world-system, the assumption was that, in Shakepeare's words, only by "transfiguring" the audience's mind "so together" can a great constancy  grow. This utopian notion that in traveling to another fantastical place one can learn the truth about one's own world pervaded much of 17th century scientific thought in its aspiration to fashion a new world-picture. Beginning with the 1660's, however, the notion of a fantastic travel became leverage for criticizing and exposing the vain presumptuousness of the "New Science". Margaret Cavendish, in her Blazing World, blatantly attacked the Royal Society, mocking its reliance on such instruments as the telescope and the microscope. The Jesuit Gabriel Daniel, in his Voiage du Monde de Descartes, used the trope of space traveling to ridicule the French philosophers' system of the world. Thus, at the end of the 17th century, leading savants such as Fontenelle or Huygens turned to speculate on planetary worlds, marginalizing the role of fantasy and instead seeking to establish a new astronomical and physical commonsense.    

May 23, 2022

17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

  • Gianna Pomata, Johns Hopkins The unbearable lightness of thinking: theory as "capriccio" in 17th-century medicine

My contribution will focus on a surprising and hitherto unnoticed aspect of early modern epistemology: the fact that the term “capriccio” was used in 17th-century natural philosophy and medicine to indicate conjecture, hypothesis, or theory -- in other words, as an antonym for observation. The term conveyed, in this context, a negative view of theory as mere opinion or “fancy”. Indeed, it carried some of the flavor of arbitrariness and unruliness that the word “caprice” was acquiring, in the same years, in the language of political theorists, particularly with the critics of the absolutist state.Right at the same time, in striking contrast, “capriccio” was acquiring a strongly positive currency in the arts. Starting with music in the 16th century, the term “capriccio” was extended to the visual arts and then to literature, to indicate a fashionable multimedia genre associated with liberty of form -- “a genre that combined order and chaos”. It appears then that a “capricious” style became fashionable in the arts right when it was being frowned upon in the sciences. What was the meaning of these parallel and contrasting trends? I will argue that the negative meaning of “capriccio” in the sciences indicated 1) the changing relationship of theory and observation in the 17thcentury, which strongly privileged observation over theory; 2) the beginning of a divergence between acceptable styles of thinking in scientific and artistic cultures, which would more fully develop in later periods.  

Event format

Full online event


Date(s)

  • Tuesday, April 26, 2022
  • Monday, May 02, 2022
  • Thursday, May 12, 2022
  • Monday, May 23, 2022
  • Monday, April 11, 2022

Keywords

  • style, method, early-modern, modern

Contact(s)

  • Matteo Vagelli
    courriel : matteo [dot] vagelli [at] unive [dot] it

Information source

  • Matteo Vagelli
    courriel : matteo [dot] vagelli [at] unive [dot] it

To cite this announcement

« Styles and Method in the Early-Modern and the Modern Period », Seminar, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, https://calenda.org/977220

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