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Indiana University Bloomington

Colloquium Series

FALL 2009 Colloquium Series

All talks are on Friday from 4:00 to 6:00 PM in Ballantine Hall 003, unless otherwise noted.

Calendar [click date for details]

Sep 04 Christopher Beckwith THE CENTRAL ASIAN SCHOLASTIC METHOD AND THE FIRST SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION 01 : 30 PM to 03 : 30 PM
Sep 11 Robert Richards Darwin’s Metaphysics of Mind and the Continuity of Nature (Room subject to change)
Sep 18 Ed Grant Conference Celebrating Ed Grant's Fifty Years at I.U. and the History and Philosophy of Science Department ED Grant Conference 02 : 00 PM to 06 : 00 PM
Sep 25 James G. Lennox William Harvey's Teleology Westfall Lecture
Oct 02 Michael Ruse Evolution and Creationism Note location change Location: Woodburn 100
Oct 16 Christina Brandt Between Science and Fiction: the Clone Concept in 20th Century Life Sciences and Culture 01 : 30 PM to 03 : 30 PM



Sep 04 01 : 30 PM to 03 : 30 PM

Christopher Beckwith

Department of Central Eurasian Studies, Indiana University

Title: THE CENTRAL ASIAN SCHOLASTIC METHOD AND THE FIRST SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION

Abstract: Despite much scholarship on the origins of the European scholastic method used by Thomas Aquinas, as well as by Albertus Magnus and many other early scientific writers, it has long been known that the method is not found in Aristotle and indeed has no Classical antecedents. It seems to appear out of the blue, fully formed, around the year 1200. Arguments that it derives from this or that earlier medieval scholastic argument type (the most popular being legal texts, or Abelard’s Sic et Non) are disproved by the texts adduced, which do not contain any of the many highly unusual features of the classical scholastic argument, particularly its recursive structure.

Through presentation of analyzed examples taken from the texts it is shown that the scholastic method first appears in Latin in the Metaphysics (Arabic Al-Ilāhiyyāt) of Avicenna (Ibn Sīnā, 980-1037), translated in Spain around 1180. In 1202 the first known example of a native European work using the scholastic method was written. This might suggest that the method was invented in the Middle East in the great age of classical Islamic civilization. However, the method has no Middle Eastern precursors and does not appear in Arabic works until the time of Avicenna, who was born and educated in Central Asia. The fully developed scholastic method first occurs in works written around the second century by scholars of the Central Asian branch of the Sarvāstivāda school of Buddhism. Like many other foundational aspects of classical Islamic civilization, the scholastic method thus derives from Central Asian or Indian sources, not Hellenistic ones.

However, the transmission of the scholastic method did not occur in isolation. In medieval Latin Europe it happened at exactly the same time as the transmission of the endowed college. The university, in the modern sense of the word, goes back only partly to the universitas or medieval guild of scholars; its most important features go back to the endowed college, which was borrowed directly from the Islamic madrasa, which is now known to have been merely an Islamicized form of the Central Asian Buddhist college, the vihāra. It was the early merger of these two institutions that made them such a powerful force in European culture.

Finally, as is well known, many of the previously unknown works of Aristotle were translated at about the same time along with the works of medieval scientists writing in Classical Arabic. It is not so well known that the works of the latter embody, in part, Indian learning, as well as Hellenistic.

It is argued that the intellectual excitement of the early thirteenth century in Europe was due to the simultaneous transmission of all three elements—the scholastic-scientific method, the college, and the works of Aristotle and the Classical Arabic scientists. In the Islamic world, true Science appeared in the works of several scholars writing around the year 1000, including Alhazen, Avicenna, and al-Bīrūnī. But the works of Aristotle and writers who partly depended on his thought came to be categorized as ‘foreign sciences’ by Islamic religious authorities; Science was eventually suppressed there. In the Latin world, attempts to suppress these works failed. The result was the ‘Scientific Revolution’ of the thirteenth century, which established Science in Europe and laid the foundations for the ‘Scientific Revolution’ of the Enlightenment.



Sep 11 (Room subject to change)

Robert Richards

Morris Fishbein Professor of the History of Science and Medicine, University of Chicago

Title: Darwin’s Metaphysics of Mind and the Continuity of Nature

Abstract: Prior to publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species, naturalists, whether they were Aristotelians, Cartesians, Kantians, or Associationists assumed a disjunction between man and the rest of the living world. Darwin and many other British naturalists in the Associationist tradition of David Hume and Jeremy Bentham did not believe an insurmountable intellectual barrier existed between animals and man—but humans did exhibit considerably larger intellectual capacity. In the moral sphere, however, virtually all naturalist assumed a deep divide between animal instinct and human moral behavior. Darwin had to demonstrate two propositions for his theory to be successful: that man’s big brain could derive from modest animal antecedents and that moral behavior could arise out of animal antecedents. He solved both problems in a similar way, one that is now being rediscovered in contemporary science. Both Darwin’s conclusion and modern evolutionary science have dramatic implications for any religious solution to his problems.



Sep 18 02 : 00 PM to 06 : 00 PM ED Grant Conference

Ed Grant Conference

Title: Celebrating Ed Grant's Fifty Years at I.U. and the History and Philosophy of Science Department

2:00-2:10: Opening Remarks

2:10-2:55: Joan Cadden, University of California Davis
"Textual Contexts of Sexual Texts"

2:55-3:40: Sarah Smith, Indiana University
"Current Historiography of Magic Related to Medieval History of Science"

3:40-4:00: Break

4:00-4:45: Rega Wood, Stanford University
"What Price the Horror of the Vacuum? Interstitial Vacua and Aristotelian Science"

4:45-5:30: Edward Grant, Emeritus Indiana University
"Let's Pretend: Imagination and the Birth of Science Fiction in Medieval Europe"

5:30-6:00: John Murdoch, Harvard University
"Reminiscences of Ed Grant's Career"



Sep 25          Westfall Lecture

James G. Lennox

Professor, History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh

Title: William Harvey's Teleology

Abstract: There were a number of distinct answers to the question of the role of teleological explanation (final causes) in the investigation of nature in the 17th century. In this paper I explore the causal framework in use in William Harvey’s Exercitationes de Generatione Animalium (1651), including the appended essay De conceptione, to make the case that Harvey is operating within an Aristotelian philosophical framework, and one that is based directly on Aristotle’s writings, and especially his zoological works. This, I argue, is yet another case of the ‘creative Aristotelianism’ of the 17th century, to which the research of Charles Schmidt did so much to draw our attention. When Harvey declares, near the close of the preface to EGA, that in studying generation ‘Aristotle is my leader, Fabricius my guide,’ he is referring, I argue, to leadership and guidance in philosophical principles and methods.



Oct 02 Note location change Location: Woodburn 100

Michael Ruse

Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor & Director of HPSC Program, Florida State University

Title: Evolution and Creationism

Abstract: What is the nature of the conflict between evolution and creationism and why is it something uniquely American? This talk looks at the different sides and, taking an evolutionary approach, suggests that the conflict lies in American history. In particular, as is so often the case, the Civil War is the crucial dividing point, after which North and South were set on very different cultural paths. The debates that we have today reflect this fact and are as much matters of actual and hoped-for lifestyles as of theology. What will emerge is that the conflicts have been caused as much by evolutionists pursuing their ends as by creationists trying to impose their thinking on the general public.



Oct 16 01 : 30 PM to 03 : 30 PM

Christina Brandt

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

Title: Between Science and Fiction: the Clone Concept in 20th Century Life Sciences and Culture

Abstract: In this paper, I will outline the history of the clone concept and utopian/dystopian views that were related to it through the 20th century. The concept of the clone can be regarded as a boundary concept that was circulated among diverse bioscientific research fields as well as fields of popular representations. Furthermore, the epistemic status of the “clone” changed over time: At the beginning of the 20th century, the term “clone” was developed in plant breeding, where a “clone” was defined as a group of plants that are propagated by the use of any form of vegetative parts. However, the concept soon referred to research tools as well as research objects in various experimental systems. This leads to questions that are fundamental for understanding the history of cloning: What kinds of semantic shifts, what kinds of exchange and feedback between different spheres are related to these processes of concept circulation? A special focus will be on the 1960s and 1970s discourse when the term “clone” entered the public sphere and scientific utopia as well as literary imaginations flourished around the figure of the "human clone“.