Speakers & Events
Ernst Mayr famously claimed that the practices of classification in natural history underwent no sharp change following the rapid acceptance among naturalists in the 1860s of Darwin's transformist arguments in the *Origin of Species*. More recently, Polly Winsor has argued for the importance of taxonomy in the development of Darwin's great theory. In effect, her argument similarly blends taxonomy before and after 1859. Broadly speaking, such positions are surely right: Darwin especially used arguments referring to varieties, species, and genera throughout his writings, and he could hardly have expected his use of these categories to carry any persuasive force if he had reinvented them wholesale. Darwin clearly recognized his reliance on the work of other, non-transformist taxonomists, and needed in effect to explain how their work could have produced just such groupings as his own theory explained through descent with modification. Since these groupings served in many cases as evidence for his theory, they could scarcely be accepted on its basis. Darwin wanted only to reinterpret their meaning, not to undermine the notion of an already achieved natural classification; he wanted to use accepted taxa as data for his theory when only his theory (he thought) could justify them. How could that be, without argumentative circularity? Darwin's practical solution involved a wholesale naturalization of classification.
- Revolutionizing the Sciences: European Knowledge and Its Ambitions, 1500-1700, new second edition (Princeton U. P., 2009).
- Mersenne and the Learning of the Schools (Cornell University Press, 1988)
- Discipline and Experience: The Mathematical Way in the Scientific Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 1995).
- The Intelligibility of Nature: How Science Makes Sense of the World (University of Chicago Press, 2006); paperback (corrected) reprint 2008.
- Co-editor with Lissa Roberts and Simon Schaffer, The Mindful Hand: Inquiry and Invention from the late Renaissance to Early Industrialization (Amsterdam: Elista, Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, 2007); sole author of epilogue, "Towards a Genealogy of Modern Science," pp. 431-441.
Einstein often claimed that his theory seemed strange only because in our "everyday life" we did not experience delays in the transmission speed of light signals. But precisely this aspect of everyday life was changing apace with the spread of new electromagnetic communication technologies, particularly after the Great War. Emerging telecommunications technologies (first telegraphy and later radio) sent messages across vast distances that had only been previously covered by transportation technologies. References to telecommunications media abound in Einstein's writings (both scientific and personal) and fill full pages in books and articles authored by his numerous interlocutors. What can we make of these references? And why have they disappeared from later accounts of Einstein's work? When Einstein famously compared the calling of the scientist to "such occupations as the services of lighthouses and lightships," we can reconsider his reference to these professions not in terms of their geographic isolation but as those centrally concerned with signals.
Jimena Canales works on Experimental History of Science (EHS), in which the historical development of science is not judged according to contemporary standards. Her book A Tenth of a Second argues that: “Scientists observe, develop theory and experiment, but first they redraw metaphysical boundaries, redefining the very meaning of what is considered to be human, nonhuman, and beast. They shape the contours and alter hierarchies between the social, the political, the historical and the natural. It is more urgent to work on how these divisions arise and to understand their repercussions than it is to study derivative scientific controversies and results.”
Canales sees the relation between science and history as the central intellectual problem of modern times starting at around 1850. This problem haunts the physical sciences (particularly thermodynamics), the life sciences (microbiology), theories of evolution, and history as a discipline. EHS focuses on the relation between science, technology and history as the central intellectual problem of modern times.
Ubaldo Pierotti Professor of Italian History and Co-Director of the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Stanford University. Paula Findlen's main interests are the scientific revolution, natural history before Darwin, and the history of medicine; her regional emphasis is on Italy in the age of Galileo. She is a scholar of the history of science and medicine and teaches history of science before it was "science" (which is, after all, a nineteenth-century word). Findlen specializes in the rise of modern science, medicine, and technology during the European Renaissance, especially in Italy, by looking at the intersection of science, art, and technology.
- In the Shadow of Newton: Laura Bassi and Her World. Under completion, advance contract with Knopf/Vintage.
- A Fragmentary Past: The Making of Museums in Late Renaissance Italy. Manuscript completed.
- Italy's Eighteenth Century: Gender and Culture in the Age of the Grand Tour. Ed. with Wendy Wassyng Roworth and Catherine Sama. Stanford University Press, 2009.
- The Contest for Knowledge: Debates over Women's Learning in Eighteenth-Century Italy. Agnesi, Maria Gaetana, Diamante Medaglia Faini, Aretafila Savini de' Rossi, and Accademia de' Ricovrati. Eds. and Trans. Rebecca Messbarger and Paula Findlen. University of Chicago Press, 2005.
- Athanasius Kircher: The Last Man Who Knew Everything. Ed. Paula Findlen. Routledge, 2003.
- Beyond Florence: The Contours of Medieval and Early Modern Italy. With Michelle Fontaine and Duane Osheim. Stanford University Press, 2003.
- Merchants and Marvels: Commerce, Science, and Art in Early Modern Europe. Ed. with Pamela Smith. Routledge, 2002.
- The Italian Renaissance: Essential Readings. Ed. Paula Findlen. Blackwell Publishers, 2002.
A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1993, Daston balances her time in Germany with a visiting professorship in The Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Daston's work has long defined the cutting edge of research in the history of science.
- Classical Probability and the Enlightenment (1988)
- Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150 - 1750 (with Katharine Park, 1998)
- "Objectivity and the Escape from Perspective" (1999)
- Biographies of Scientific Objects (co-editor, 2000)
- Eine kurze Geschichte der wissenschaftlichen Aufmerksamkeit (2001)
- Wunder, Beweise und Tatsachen: zur Geschichte der Rationalität (2001)
- The Moral Authority of Nature (co-editor, 2003)
- Things that Talk: Object Lessons from Art and Science (2004)
- Thinking with Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism (co-editor, 2005)
- Objectivity (with Peter Galison, Boston: Zone Books, 2007)
- Natural Law and Laws of Nature in Early Modern Europe (co-editor with Michael Stolleis, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008