The Committee on the Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science (CHSS) is an interdisciplinary graduate program dedicated to the study of the history, philosophy, and social relations of science. Read more…


March 9, 2018 at 4:00pm

The Fishbein Workshop in the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science presents:
Katja Krause

"Seeking Knowledge: Experience and Authority in the Medieval Sciences of Soul and Body."
John Hope Franklin Room (Social Sciences 224)

ABSTRACT:The conventional view is that medieval natural science relied on authority and ignored experience. Medieval literati wrote commentaries on Aristotle’s libri naturales, rehashed the scientific experience and knowledge found in them, and hardly ever experimented with or observed nature for themselves. At times, some of them inserted experiential facts into their commentaries and free-standing works, yet the scientific significance of these facts remained of minor importance. The quest for scientific knowledge therefore happened largely in the shadows of their desks rather than under the light of nature. The purpose of this paper is to challenge this common view. By way of a case study of Albert the Great’s complete corpus of the natural sciences, I wish to shed some light on the distinctinve methodological approach he developed for the sciences of soul and body by showing how Albert built experience and authority on a continuum of human knowing — a continuum that ultimately viewed natural scientific experience and knowing as instrumental to human development and flourishing.

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