Ever since the famous frontispiece of Francis Bacon’s Instauratio Magna, modern science has been portrayed in terms of future promises. The vessels daring to sail beyond the Pillars of Hercules were an obvious metaphor of the wonders to come if a new epistemic culture was implemented: the motto “multi pertransibunt et augebitur scientia” has both verbs in the future tense. The new Organon, the new method and the new logics were to be trusted on the basis of promises of things to come rather than on actual achievements. At stake was, many have argued, a secularisation of the religious notion of redemption through a uniform and tightly methodical science. Later on, the rhetoric of “promise” was at the very core of the ideals of the European Enlightenment in the eighteenth century and its enthroning of the goddess reason.
This workshop will explore the ways the category of “promise” can help us understand the history of science and, with it, contemporary ideas on what science is or is perceived to be. It will include contributions by historians of science, philosophers and sociologist committed to explore the notion of “promise” as a historiographical tool in the history of science. The papers will be circumscribed to case-studies from the last two hundred years, including some recent episodes in science so as to make the study relevant beyond the confined limits of academic history of science.
We invite contributions of individual papers to join us in the workshop “The Promises of Science. Historical Perspectives”, to be held in San Sebastian/Donostia (Spain) on 7—9 April, 2014. The workshop will gather historians, philosophers and sociologists of science in the task of analysing the category of “promise” as a historiographical tool to help us understand past and present perceptions of science.
Abstracts of 500 words aprox. are welcome until December 15th 2013 to the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, please see the conference website.