HISTORY AND THEORY OF SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT

HISTORY AND THEORY OF SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT

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Code
104269
ACADEMIC YEAR
2020/2021
CREDITS
9 credits during the 1st year of 8465 Philosophical Methods (LM-78) GENOVA
SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINARY SECTOR
M-STO/05
TEACHING LOCATION
GENOVA (Philosophical Methods)
semester
2° Semester
Teaching materials

OVERVIEW

The history of scientific thought investigates the emergence and the evolution of scientific ideas in their historical, philosophical and social context. This module focuses on the early modern period, namely, on the period of the ‘Scientific Revolution’, and on the rise of the constitutive traits of modern science, such

AIMS AND CONTENT

LEARNING OUTCOMES


 

Outline the historical development of the different sciences to analyze, then, the theoretical and methodological structure of the same.

To acquire a solid knowledge of the history of scientific-philosophical thought from antiquity to the present day in order to offer extensive information on today's debate in the various areas of scientific research.

Promote an appropriate approach to the use of bibliographic tools, texts, and the different argumentative and epistemological methods of the different sciences.


 

AIMS AND LEARNING OUTCOMES

By the end of the module, students will have gained:

- specialist knowledge on the early modern history of science

- analytical skills with respect to the main scientific texts of the Scientific Revolution

- a study methodology to understand the main problems of early modern science

- the ability to use appropriate specialist terminology.

PREREQUISITES

None

Teaching methods

Lectures will be organized thematically and complemented by readings from historical sources and by the discussion of secondary bibliography in Italian and in other languages. Secondary bibliography will be uploaded on Aulaweb.

SYLLABUS/CONTENT

In 2020/2021, the module will deal with the origins of the Scientific Revolution in the fields of astronomy and cosmology. The first book of Copernicus’ De revolutionibus will illustrate the issues linked to heliocentrism, its motivations and its scientific and philosophical sources. The course will then study the ‘cosmological question’ between the end of the sixteenth and the first half of the seventeenth century. To this end, the central part of the module will be dedicated to the study of the works by Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), and the way in which these develop the consequences of heliocentrism both in the field of natural philosophy, and in the relations between philosophy, science and religion. The analysis of the Cena de le ceneri (Ash Wednesday Supper) will be complemented by readings from Bruno’s other works, including the metaphysical dialogues De la causa, principio et uno and De l’infinito, universo e mondi. The last part of the course will consider the evolution of the cosmological debate in the first decades of the seventeenth century through readings from the works of Kepler and Galilei.

Selected topics from the module will include:

- cosmology and metaphysics: the harmony of the world

- heliocentrism and the infinite extension of the universe

- cosmological models and their visual representation

- the origins of cosmology as a philosophical discipline

- astronomical discoveries and natural philosophy

- humanism and modern science

- mathematics and natural philosophy

 

RECOMMENDED READING/BIBLIOGRAPHY

Required readings for students attending the course

Texts:

Niccolò Copernico, De revolutionibus, Book I. A recent Italian translation is in Niccolò Copernico, La struttura del cosmo, introduzione di M. Blay, commento di J. Seidengart, traduzione di R Giroldini, Firenze Olschki, 2009. English translations are also available.  

Giordano Bruno, La cena de le ceneri. Recommended Italian edition: Giordano Bruno, Opere italiane, a cura di N. Ordine, Torino, UTET 2002 (also available as ebook). A recent English translation with commentary is Giordano Bruno, The Ash Wednesday Supper, edited and translated by H. Gatti, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2018.

Studies:

Required readings:

Th. Kuhn, La rivoluzione copernicana. L’astronomia planetaria nello sviluppo del pensiero occidentale, Torino, Einaudi (original edition in English: The Copernican Revolution. Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought)

A. Koyré, Dal mondo chiuso all’universo infinito, Milano, Feltrinelli (original edition in English: From the closed world to the infinite universe).

Further bibliography will be available through Aulaweb.

 

Student NOT attending the course

In addition to the above bibliography, students will study one of the following books (all three of them are also available in English translation):

- H. Gatti, Giordano Bruno e la scienza del Rinascimento, Milano, R. Cortina (orginal edition in English: Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science).

- R. Westman, The Copernican Question. Prognostication, Skepticism and Celestial Order, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2011. Capitoli 1-5 (pp. 25-169), 8-10 (pp. 223-306)

- M. Bucciantini, M. Camerota, F. Giudice, Il telescopio di Galileo. Una storia europea, Torino, Einaudi (English translation Galileo’s Telescope. A European Story, Cambridge, Harvard UP).

TEACHERS AND EXAM BOARD

LESSONS

Teaching methods

Lectures will be organized thematically and complemented by readings from historical sources and by the discussion of secondary bibliography in Italian and in other languages. Secondary bibliography will be uploaded on Aulaweb.

LESSONS START

16 February 2021

EXAMS

Exam description

Students that have attended the course can choose between an oral exam and an essay (around 20 pages or 5000 words. The topic of the essay should be agreed with the instructor at least 1 month before it is handed in). In both cases the assessment will consider the critical understanding of the themes dealt with in the course, the ability to analyse critically the texts, and the acquisition of an appropriate philosophical and scientific terminology.

It is possible to take the exam in English. Students choosing this option are advised to get in touch with the instructor to agree upon English readings.

 

Students that have not attended the course can only opt for the oral exam.

 

Booking for the exam is required at least one week before the chosen exam session.

Assessment methods

Students will be assessed on:

1) their knowledge of the texts and of their historical and philosophical context

2) their ability to analyse critically the topics and the texts studied during the course

3) the coherence of their arguments, and the appropriateness of the philosophical and scientific terminology.