Deuxièmes Journées d’études / 2nd Workshop
Epistémologie Historique: une histoire du présent
Historical Epistemology: a history of the present
19-20-21 mai 2016

Ecole doctorale de Philosophie ED 280, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Institut des sciences Juridique & Philosophique de la Sorbonne – UMR 8130
Centre de Philosophie Contemporaine de la Sorbonne, Equipe EXeCO

PDF of call for papers

The working domain of this workshop corresponds to the domain of historical epistemology (HEP), broadly understood both as a “tradition” and as a method in philosophy and history of science. On this occasion we would like to investigate one of the most distinctive traits of HEP, that is, the permanent tension between past and present it instantiates. As testified by many of its practitioners, HEP is an inquiry which is present-oriented, or, alternatively, it is written using the present as a standpoint. In this sense, normative (or recurrent) history of science, as conceptualized by Gaston Bachelard or Georges Canguilhem, relies on a current scientific norm, whereas Michel Foucault’s approach, beside introducing a difference between present and actuality, seems to question or limit the validity of current scientific norms. From the normative history of science to the project of an “history of the present” and of an “historical ontology of ourselves”, Foucauldian expressions reprised also by Ian Hacking, a space is opened for a methodological and philosophical reflection which is unavoidable for every further development of HEP. Probability (Hacking 1975, 1990), sexuality (Davidson 2001), objectivity (Daston-Galison 2007) and the experimental systems of molecular biology (Rheinberger 1997) are some examples of the categories and material constraints out of which our experience of the world and of ourselves are being structured today.

The histories that the aforementioned authors reconstruct of these categories and constraints illustrate the twofold critical import of an epistemological analysis: on the one hand, they articulate the intertwinement of ethical and epistemic norms while, on the other, they open up the space for new modalities of thought and action. The discussion of the role of the present and of actuality within HEP will thus give us the possibility to articulate the political and ethical stakes implied by this kind of inquiry.

With reference to this general framework, the proposals should constitute original articulations of either one of the following axes of problems:

I. The role of scientific norms and values in historiography: We would like to further analyze the role played by the present of science in HEP: how do the references to actuality vary according to the different scientific domains? To what extent does the continuous or discontinuous trajectory of an epistemic object determine (or is determined by) the kind of normativity at stake in a certain discipline? To what extent do the conditions of applicability of the principle of recurrence draw on the nature of the norms of a certain science? Is a recurrent history of human science possible? What gives a recurrent history its critical import? These questions bear on the different ways of relating the past to the present and of understanding the progress and transformations of the sciences.

II. The power of the concept: Works inspired by the approach of HEP have highlighted several ethical-political issues, while at the same time refusing to see the scientific norm as a simple effect of power. Such an assimilation of a scientific norm to an effect of power would abolish the normative privilege which a current science has on its past, thus neglecting the relation between truth and reality. What remains to be shown, however, is that scientific progress cannot be understood apart from concrete social and technical problems, that is, of man’s ability to comprehend and transform reality. We welcome contributions bearing on: the relation of a concept to its techniques; the analysis of techniques of observation, of measuring and of medical normalization; the relation between the classification of the living and the different manners of making up people; or the different epistemological, archaeological, and genealogical forms that an analysis of the relation power-knowledge can take.

Proposals (500 words plus a short presentation of the candidate) must be sent by 2016 February 1st (notification of acceptance or refusal by February 22nd), in word or pdf formats, to Proposals by graduate students and young researchers will be privileged. The languages of the workshop will be French and English.
Dates importantes / Important dates
Limite de proposition d’interventions / Application deadline : February 1st 2016
Réponse / Notification of acceptance: February 22th 2016
Remise de textes / Texts submission : May 6th 2016
Journées d’études / Workshop days : May 19-20-21st 2016

Comité scientifique / Scientific committee
Christian BONNET, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
Jean-François BRAUNSTEIN, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
Arnold I. DAVIDSON, Université de Chicago.
Pierre WAGNER, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

Le comité d’organisation / The Organizing committee
Ivan MOYA DIEZ, Matteo VAGELLI (coordinateurs)

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