Recipes Transformed, Colloquium Programme, 18-19, 26 November 2021

ICUB-HUmanities, University of Bucharest.

First international colloquium of the research project Recipes, Technologies, Experiments: Enactment and the Emergence of Modern Science (PN-III-P4-ID-PCE-2020-0251). Online


19:00- 19:20 Welcome Address

19:20-20:00 Arianna Borrelli (Leuphana University of Lünenburg) -Recipes as Tools for Concept Formation in the Work of Giovan Battista Della Porta

20:00-20:40 Dana Jalobeanu (University of Bucharest)The “Missing Results” of Bacon’s Tables: Or Reading the Novum Organum in Context


16:00-16:40 Stephen Clucas (Birkbeck University of London) – Going with the Alchemical Flow: Schematizing Laboratory Technique in the Late Sixteenth Century

16:40-17:20 Georgiana Hedesan (University of Oxford)Between Incomplete and Philosophical Recipes: Deciphering Van Helmont’s Universal Medicines

17:20-18:00 Alexandru Liciu (University of Cambridge)John Woodward’s “Test” of Observation and the Issue of Civil History

18:00-18:20 Break

18:20-19:00 Laura Georgescu (University of Groningen)Philosophising with Objects: The Role of Artefacts in Digby’s Treatise on Body

19:00-19:40 Doina-Cristina Rusu (University of Groningen) – Distillations, Spirits, and Essences. Experimentation and Matter Theory in the Early Modern Period

19:40-20:20 Mihnea Dobre (University of Bucharest) Constructing Experiments with Glass Drops in Jacques Rohault’s Natural Philosophy


16:00-16:40 Florike Egmond (University of Leiden) – Cultivating’ the Sea and Reading its Signs: Marine Expertise of the 16th-Century North Sea

16:40-17:20 Benjamin Goldberg (University of Florida) – Concepts of Experience in Royalist Recipe Collections

17:20-17:40 Break

17:40-18-20 Iordan Avramov (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences)Communicating Recipes and Experiments via Letters at the Early Royal Society of London

18:20-19:00 Oana Matei  (University of Bucharest, University of Vasile Goldis, Arad)- Building an Early Modern Science of Vegetation: Nehemiah Grew’s Inquiries into the “Anatomy of Plants”

Dana Jalobeanu on the Historia et inquisitio de animato et inanimato

In this seminar, Dana Jalobeanu invited us to explore one of  Francis Bacon’s lesser known texts, the Historia et inquisitio de animato et inanimato. Starting from the conditions for the apparition of animated bodies, („an enclosed spirit, heat attenuating and dilating the spirit, soft and sticky matter, and a matrix closed up for the right length of time”), Dana started an investigation into the proper place of the Historia et inquisitio in the broader context of Bacon’s corpus of texts, suggesting that it could provide a roadmap to Bacon’s unwritten 4th part of the Great Instauration.

Dana emphasized that, in this project of a systematic inquiry into the domain of animated matter, we find a convoluted, but technical, terminology (inquisitio as a more advanced part of inquiry than the mere historia; „inquisitio inartificialis et in confuso” vs. „inquisitio artificialis”). An important example of such a technical concept – on which we spent some time – are the „canones mobiles”,  i.e. flexible rules and generalizations that are evolving alongside the process of discovery (and which, as it was suggested by the audience, come from a medical tradition, for which the „canones” represent a series of rules agreed upon by the greatest physicians). The use of canones mobiles is relatively widespread in Bacon’s programme (for instance, in the De vijs mortis we are presented with such a canon: „anything that can be constantly fed, and by feeding be wholly restored, is, like the vestal flame, potentially everlasting”). The terminological discussion led to the question of how are such concepts to be organized and what can this tell us about Bacon’s programme of an experimental natural philosophy. Thus, Dana argued that we should distinguish between ”mother-histories” (the first level of inquiry) and the more advanced inquisitio (exploratory experimentation that can be done at different levels of inquiry). We also examined the theory of matter that underpins the discussion on vivification. For Bacon, „vivification” (the switch from inanimate to animate matter) occurs when the „spirits” that make up the matter are disposed in a specific structure (they are „branched”). What we obtain from this is a continuous taxonomy of the animated bodies, since this account also allows for degrees (some things are more „animated” than others). We took the discussion on step further and asked how is it possible for the artificer to produce artificial life in the laboratory. Dana showed that there are two possibilities on the table (controlling the process of „putrefaction” vs. controlling the matter), and then proposed to look closer at some steps towards the production of artificial life, such as the processes of concoction or of enclosed distillation.

The speaker also received a good number of relevant questions from the audience, such as: what is, in this context, the difference between imitating and perfecting nature? Is the whole universe animated, for Bacon? Can we divide the spirits? Can we produce better animals? What role do limit-cases play in the context of vivification (animals that live in extreme environments, deep ground that ceases to be fertile etc.)? Which sort of things can be vivified and which ultimately can not? (Can we vivify gold? How about Paracelsus’s homunculus? Why shouldn’t we try to reproduce it?) Is vivification related to density and rarity?

Oana Matei on Nehemiah Grew’s science of vegetation

In this seminar, Oana Matei presented her work-in-progress related to the way in which Nehemiah Grew planned to build a science of vegetation, with a focus of his “The Anatomy of Plants”. Oana advanced her provisional thesis that the aim of Grew’s book is to organize different processes of nature into theoretical layers, i.e. in a science of vegetation. Thus, we found out that, for, Grew, “digestion is instrumental to fermentation”, while “fermentation is subservient to vegetation”. These notions, alongside some more details on the way that Grew speaks of generation and motion, gave rise to a discussion on the proper terms that we should use in relation to Grew. Some of us tended to see him as a serious experimentalist (indicating possible connection with Robert Hooke or the medical circle to which Grew belonged), while others emphasized  the vitalistic tone of some of his phrases, or even the bits that rather belong to a mechanical philosophy.

In this context, a number of interesting questions were put on the table. Are some of Grew’s notions of Helmontian influence? In which sense does Grew use the notion of „principles” (Nitrous, Acid, Alkaline, Marine, but he also claims that the atoms are „principles”)? Are they more than mere posits? Why did Grew write an anatomy of plants? To which theoretical level does the anatomy belong? Is Grew part of a larger discussion about the merits of the Ancients vs. the merits of the moderns? (is he engaging with the Hippocratic corpus on generation?). How does Grew reconciliate a physics of processes with geometrical observations (that you only see in an instance)? Is Grew involved in a project of creating artificial life? (and how radical was this?). What is, for him, the difference between biological and non-biological entities? How is Grew’s embryology looking like (how do the structures of pre-established order get intro the seed? Are they there to begin with?).

Experimental Fire. Jennifer Rampling at the Recipes and Enactment Research Seminar

In this meeting we discussed Jennifer Rampling (Princeton University)’s concept of “practical exegetics”, as exposed in her book,  The Experimental Fire (University of Chicago Press, 2020). We focused on chapter two (“Medicine and Transmutation”) and three (“Opinion and Epxerience”) of the book, alongside the text of a scholarly debate between Rampling and William Newman (Indiana University).

Professor Rampling began her presentation with the problem of decknamen, i.e. the issue that in the alchemical literature allegorical names were attributed to different substances, which makes it difficult for the reader to understand what is precisely meant in an alchemical text. This, as professor Rampling showed both in her book and in the presentation that she prepared for us, engenders a philosophically fascinating way of reading these texts, a hermeneutical approach that encompasses both practical and theoretical knowledge. In order to understand this process we could ask how would one learn from the alchemical texts. There are, one Rampling’s account, a few important steps: the alchemy apprentice can start, for instance, from acquiring practical knowledge by working for another person (a craftsman). Then, this practical knowledge has to be somehow related to the books written by the forerunners of alchemy. At this point, we notice that different people bring to the fore different sorts of practical knowledge, but also different education or religious confessions. Thus, when one writes one’s own treatises of alchemy, one realizes a “feedback loop”, in which the way of reading is influenced by one’s practice, while one’s practice is in turn influenced by the readings. This process of balancing practical (performative) knowledge and textual analysis is termed by professor Rampling “practical exegetics”. Moreover, focusing on the persona of George Ripley, a 15th century alchemist, Rampling identifies a tradition forged by practical exegetics, the tradition of “sericonian” alchemy (a way of reading alchemical texts that is built around a mineral/vegetable solvent). The adequacy of this tradition is further called into question by William Newman, who proposed as an alternative an alchemical tradition based on the writings of Roger Bacon. As Rampling has shown, this scholarly debate is itself a perfect example of practical exegetics at work.

The audience had several notable questions and comments that were discussed at large during the seminar. How can we know if the materials used and advocated by different alchemists were the same? Can we divide the alchemical practices according to their end (medical use vs. the transmutation of metals)? Which are the tacit theological assumptions behind the positions of different alchemists? Can there be a moral reading of the alchemical texts (especially focusing on the idea of bettering oneself)? Was there ever the case that alchemy apprentices started from theory rather than from practice? If the alchemical processes and their terminology are not standardized, how about operations (e.g. distillation)? Is there a noticeable difference between natural magic and alchemy when it comes to the issue of testimony and authority?

More on the Recipes and Enactment Research Seminar can be found here:

Recipes and technologies of cultivating the best apples and making the finest cider in the works of John Beale

Oana Matei

John Beale (c. 1608-1683) was an early fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the Georgical Committee. On the subject of fruit tree cultivation and cider making Beale published Herefordshire Orchards (1657), “General Advertisements Concerning Cider,” as part of the collective volume of Pomona (1670), and also made important contributions to the Philosophical Transactions  in the 1660s and 1670s.

In Herefordshire Orchards Beale took some recipes from William Lawson and how he further tested them and tried to stabilize them in such a manner to ensure predictable results and to make a technology of cultivating the best apples for cider in the most suited soil.

William Lawson (1553/4-1635) was an English clergyman and writer on gardening who published only one book: A New Orchard and Garden, or, The Best Way for Planting, Grafting, and to Make Any Ground Good for a Rich Orchard (London: Richard Jackson, 1618). Apparently it was the first published book on gardening in the North of England, and its section The Countrie Housewifes Garden was the first  horticultural work written for women.

Lawson’s observations (as recorded by Beale):

“1. That the best way to plant a• Orchard were to turn the ground with a spade in February, and to se• from February till May, every month• some kernels of the best and sounde• apples, or peares &c. finger deep, as a foot distance: And by removing the rest (as time and occasion should advise) to leave the likeliest plant to reside in the naturall place unremoved. Ch. 7. pag. 17.

2. That the kernels of every apple would bring forth apples of the like kind. Chap. 7. pag. 18.

3. That by the leaves of each spiring plant you might distinguish each kind of fruit, whether delicate or harsh, &c. Ch. 7. pag. 18.

4. That trees thus raised might be preserved or continue for a thousand years, &c. Chap. 14. pag. 47.

5. That apples either grafted, or any time removed, could never be sound, durable, or otherwise perfect.” (HO, 1657, 14-15)

Although after a first reading Beale refuted all of them, he then “resolved to make exact triall with patience.” (HO, 1657, 16) and noted down, systematically, all the results that he obtained.

  1. “By diligent enquiry the first Spring I found fourteen severall sorts of these naturall apples, the fruit much differing in tast, shape and colour; some only green and sowrish, some red-straked, some party-coloured, and very pleasant…I now find that the kernells of apples grafted on crab-stocks prove not all crabs, nor (as I guesse) altogether of the kind of that apple, whence the kernell was taken. (HO, 1657, 16-17)
  2. Tis sure that kernells of the same apples, in a far differing soyl, do produce a different apple; but (as I said) still with some inclina∣tion to the originall, if it be the kernell of an ungrafted apple. And this may advertise the best season of designing variety; namely, in applica∣tion of choice compost to the very kernel, as Gab. Plat prescribeth Exp. 14. pag. 210. of the Additions to the excellent Legacy. All other stories, of powring liquors into the bark, or bulk of the tree, are effete and idle phansies, for nine dayes wonder. (HO, 1657, 18-19)
  3. I find the truth, & that much more might be added to Lawsons rules, of distinguishing the hopeful∣nesse of the fruit by the first leaves of the yearling plant. (HO, 1657, 19)
  4. For the incredible durance of apple-trees to a thousand years, I have upon much experience … ‘Tis certainly true (as Gabriel Plat in the foresaid place noteth,) that if a man aime at his present profit, then graffing is his way: but if he aime at the profit of his posterity, then it is best not to graft at all.  … Every aspiring Trunk of some of these naturall apples, is much more lasting than any grafted fruit-tree (HO, 1657, 20-21)
  5. In a grafted plant every bow should be lopped, at the very tops, in apples and peares; not in cherries and plums. In a naturall plant, the bowes should not at all be lopped, but some taken off close to the trunk; that the root at first replantation be not engaged to maintain too many suckers. And this must be done with such discretion, that the top-branches be not too close together; for the naturall plant is apt to grow spiry, & thereby failes of fruitfulnesse. Therefore let the reserved branches be divided at a convenient roundnesse. The branches that are cut off, may be set, and will grow, but slowly. If the top prove spiry or the fruit unkind, then the due remedy must be in graffing.

Neither is graffing to be used only as a remedy. For it doth most certainly improve the kind of the fruit: insomuch that a graft of the same fruit doth meliorate the fruit, as is lately much observed by our Welsh neighbours, who do graffe the Gen∣net-moyle upon the same stock, and thereby obtain a larger apple, more juicy, and better for all uses: and some triplicate their graffings (for a curiosity) upon the same account.

And it is noted amongst us, that a pearmain or any other pleasant fruit either for cider, or the table, is much sweeter, if grafted upon the stock of a Gennet-moyle, or Kydoddin, than if grafted on a crab-stock; though much lesse lasting upon the stock of the Gennet-moyle: the Gennet-moyl being also lesse lasting, especially amongst us, where they are generally planted of large setlings, which must needs wound them in their very beginnings, and therefore hinder their duration.

Also graffing doth much precipitate, or at least expedite the reward, especially if the graffe be taken from a branch that hath some yeares constantly born sound fruit plentifully.” (HO, 1657, 23-25)

We can read Beale’s efforts as attempts to enact and test recipes, eliminate what does not work, propose a systematic approach to investigating the different steps in the cider-making procedure, i.e., building a cider-making technology.

Differences in respect to the recipe format:

-the lack of the imperative: “take that, do that….”

-many trials are presented altogether with both their good and bad results

-the stage of generalization is increased

In his trials, Beale was always asking why and how questions, but he has a bottom up oriented approach which starts from experiments that mainly produce fruits and ends up providing experiments of light. The technology of making cider reflects the transition from the knowledge entailed in old treatises as well as modern books of recipes but based essentially on descriptive accounts accompanied by a set of rules and practically-documented instructions, to a procedure stabilized as a result of repeated experimental attempts and that is able to lead to expected, predictable results.

Research assistant position

24 month full-time job, research assistant for a PhD student

The ICUB-Humanities, University of Bucharest is opening a full-time position for a research assistant within the framework of the project “Recipes, Technologies, Experiments: Enactment and the Emergence of Modern Science” (PN-III-P4-ID-PCE-2020-0251), PI Dana Jalobeanu. Duration: 24 months.

Job description: The successful candidate will work with Dana Jalobeanu and her team in Bucharest. The purpose of the project is to investigate and understand the ways in which the traditional „recipe-format” was gradually transformed, during the seventeenth century, into ways of recording more similar with the „proper” scientific experiment. The successful candidate is expected to take full part in the online and face-to-face activities of the team, to work on a research theme of his/her own (for details see Recipes, ‘technologies’, experiments: Enactment and the emergence of modern science – Dana Jalobeanu) to help with organizing events and project administration. Working as a part of a small and integrated team of historians and philosophers of science will offer expertise and motivation for a future career in the field.

For more information see here: Research assistant for a PhD student | EURAXESS ( and here.

Filosofie experimentală și filosofie speculativă – discuție de seminar

Cu toții am auzit și folosit la un moment dat etichetele de ”raționalist” sau de ”empirist”, uneori părând că avem în minte un mănunchi de proprietăți esențiale și că știm precis ce vrem să zicem, alteori într-un mod mai deflaționist sau provizoriu (în lipsă de altceva mai precis), iar uneori poate chiar ca invectiv adresat dinspre o tabără taberei opuse.

Însă în acest seminar vom analiza o încercare de a găsi termeni care să stea mai bine pentru ceea ce se întâmplă în filosofia modernă timpurie. Peter Anstey consideră că avem de pierdut dacă folosim acești termeni post-kantieni atunci când discutăm despre filosofia naturală a secolelor XVII-XVIII și, în schimb, el ne propune să folosim niște termeni mai apropiați de vocabularul epocii: ”filosofie experimentală” pentru cea ”empiristă”, și ”filosofie speculativă” pentru cea ”raționalistă”.

În lumina a ceea ce am discutat până acum despre principii, inductio, sau teoria științei, probabil definițiile formulate de Anstey par oarecum lesne de înțeles. Filosofia experimentală este credința că observația atentă și experimentul sunt necesare pentru descoperirea principiilor științelor, în timp ce pentru cea speculativă principiile pot fi găsite și altfel decât prin experiment, iar experimentul și observația sunt doar un fel de test ulterior al principiilor obținute prin aceste alte căi (reflecție, de pildă). Uneori acest din urmă fel de a face filosofie naturală este însoțit de formularea de ”ipoteze” (așa cum am văzut în fragmentele din Newton, unde acesta atacă ”ipotezele” speculative carteziene; sau poate cum am văzut și în bucățile din Leibniz, unde Teofil vrea să construiască o metodă de a ”testa” cunoașterea obținută prin ipoteze. De discutat).

Însă pentru a intra în detalii – dar și pentru a supune la test acest cadru –, ne vom opri pe o serie de texte primare: părțile 2, 5 și 6 din Discurs asupra metodei. Dacă în mod tradițional suntem obișnuiți cu un Descartes raționalist sau al îndoielii metodice, în paginile despre care discutăm pare să se contureze un portret diferit și ceva mai complicat. În partea 1, Descartes ne vorbește despre cei 4 pași pe care vrea să-i urmeze în aflarea adevărului, despre modelul matematicienilor de a construi știința, despre prejudecățile pe care trebuie să le eliminăm (mintea prea trufașă, care generealizează prea repede, și cea prea modestă, care nu poate ieși de sub autoritate) și despre cum trebuie să aștepte să se mai maturieze înainte de a porni pe drumul cunoașterii. În mod interesant, aici Descartes ne zice că îi trebuie ceva timp pentru a se debarasa de preconcepțiile adunate de-a lungul vremii, dar și că îi trebuie vreme ”să adune un mare număr de experimente”.

În partea a 5-a vedem un Descartes ”evoluționist”, care ne propune un experiment mental cu rolul de a ne arăta că legile naturii propuse de el ar putea explica mai bine apariția vieții decât povestea biblică a Genezei (în care totul se petrece prin fiat, adică organismele sunt create direct în starea lor perfectă). Apoi ne propune un experiment foarte ”hands on” de disecție a unei inimi de animal (la care cititorul este invitat să ia parte), pentru a ajunge la distincția dintre om și animale. În partea a 6-a, Descartes ne zice că are o propunere contrară ”filosofiei speculative predate în școli”, propunere ce aduce cu sine obținerea de rezultate practice, printr-un proiect de tip baconian de strângere de informație, găsit colaboratori și funding. Cumva în contrast cu ce vom fi văzut în pareta a 2-a, unde Descartes face apologia introspecției și a principiilor certe găsite cu propria minte (prin analogie și cu o armată ce va pierde în repetate rânduri dacă nu are cea mai bună formație de luptă încă de la început), în partea a 6-a Descartes caută asistenți de cercetare. Doar că vrea niște asistenți foarte anume, care să muncească după direcțiile lui (și cu principiile lui) și să nu interfereze prea mult cu ipoteza de cercetare (ba chiar preferă să-i plătească decât să ”piardă vremea” explicându-le curiozitățile ce vor apărea de-a lungul vremii). În acest context, ne vom întreba dacă aici avem de-a face cu un Descartes speculativ sau cu unul experimentalist.


  1. Sunt termenii de ”filosofie specualtivă” și ”experimentală” categorii ale actorilor sau categorii istoriografice? Sau poate ambele? Care ar fi avantajul dacă i-am folosi în locul celor de ”raționalism” și ”empirism”?
  2. Din ce am văzut până acum și din ce ați mai lucrat, ce exemple de filosofi specualtivi puteți da? Dar de experimentaliști?
  3. Are Descartes și o parte experimentală? Oare nu folosește experimentul ca să testeze  sau să ajusteze principiile obținute prin introspecție? (ceea ce, în termenii lui Anstey, l-ar mai apropia de filosofia naturală speculativă).


The main goal of our project is to show that the road from recipes to experiments was long, complex and fascinating; with stops and turns that needs investigating. The starting point of the road was the recipe format and the books of secrets. At the end we can find “experimental reports.” But what is really fascinating is what lies in between. Our investigation focus on the intermediate forms of recordings but also inquires into the process of disambiguation through which tacit knowledge embodied in the recipes was gradually spelled out, tried, tested, reformulated and transformed. We call this process “enactment”.


Enactment is a process of progressive disambiguation of tacit knowledge encoded in a recipe. It is a complex process which includes a number of components. There is, first, the reading and the understanding of a recipe, a gradual process, extremely context-dependent. Then, enactment presupposes imagining experimental set-ups, imagining ways to spell out the tacit knowledge embodied in the recipes, imagining ways of “improving” the recipe, devising the trial and assessing the result, changing and adapting the material conditions, introducing new elements, devising material and conceptual instruments to tackle the phenomenon under investigation. Thus, enacting a recipe has a creative component, it exercises both the imagination and the judgment of the reader (and of the experimenter), it tests the expertise of the actor performing it and it is, therefore, highly context-dependent.

In order to enact a recipe, the reader has to recover some of the tacit knowledge embodied in it. In fact, recipes contain several layers of secrets. In some cases the secret unfolds only to those with a special training; in other cases, the secret is revealed in the process of enactment; finally, in other cases it lies in the result. Furthermore, enacting recipes is something which depends on and varies according to the skills, the knowledge and the training of the reader. Nonetheless, it will take the  reader/enactor/experimenter to execute the instructions of the recipe again and again in order to establish causal correlations, eliminate, as much as possible, the sources of error, stabilize the entire process, and ensure the repeatability and predictability of the results.

Our claim is that through enactment, early modern investigators of nature transformed received recipes into two different kinds of products, with different functions in the structures of knowledge. One of these products is what we call “technology.”

We take “technology” to be descriptive for a particular kind of enacting and recording recipes in view of producing new (and sometimes miraculous) objects. This led to experimentation of a particular kind: experimentation directed towards spelling out the tacit knowledge embodied in the recipe, clarifying the desired result, stabilize the procedure of enactment so that the result would be obtained at each trial and – most importantly – find ways of recording that would make the technology transparent to the reader. We intend to investigate several such early modern technologies (of cider making, of distillation, of sounds, etc.). We will show that they are not scientific experiments; in fact, technologies are the very opposite of scientific experiments. By contrast to scientific experimentation, which also began with recipes and enactment, but in the process of enactment several open-ended questions directed the inquiry away from the envisaged result of the recipe (such as “why” and “how”), technologies encapsulate and codify practical knowledge; and sometimes they also produce theoretical knowledge; but it is a particular kind of applied knowledge, knowledge with expected results.

Goals and activities

A key goal of our project is to define and exemplify forms and strategies of enacting recipes in early modern philosophy and the sciences. We intend to investigate a large corpus of texts belonging to different early modern disciplines in an attempt to unveil and clarify the successive steps of enacting recipes in particular experimental contexts (the corpus contains works by Francis Bacon, William Gilbert, Hugh Platt, Thomas Browne, John Barlow, Henry Power, John Evelyn, Kenelm Digby and Robert Boyle). We aim to clarify and classify  forms and strategies of enactment and introduce this subject into the current discussions in both history and philosophy of science and we will do that by bridging the gaps between textual analysis of records, material practices, and reconstructions.

Leibniz despre formarea principiilor, arta descoperirii și teoria științei- discuție de seminar

În acest seminar, vom analiza un fragment din Leibniz, Noi eseuri asupra intelectului omenesc. Textul are forma unui dialog. Unul din personaje, Philaletes, ne prezintă în mod aproximativ pozițiile pe care le adoptă Locke în  Eseu asupra intelectului omenesc, iar Teofil este vocea critică a unui Leibniz ce vrea de fapt să construiească pornind de la concepțiile lui Locke. Noile eseuri acoperă tematici diverse, de la atributele materiei la posibilitatea miracolelor.

Însă noi ne vom ocupa de o discuție recapitulativă despre principii, arta descoperirii și teoria științei. Mai jos găsiți ce am înțeles eu din text.

Philaletes 1: Principiile sunt baza cunoașterii, iar științele sunt construite pornind de la principii cunoscute (matematica e un exemplu). Însă problema e că par să fie două tipuri de principii: unele necesare și universale, iar altele provenite din cunoașterea empirică a particularului. De exemplu, alfăm că corpul nostru este mai mare decât un deget nu în baza principiului universal că ”întregul este mai mare decât partea”, ci pornind de la cercetarea empirică a propriului nostru corp (ceea ce însemană, evident, cercetarea unui particular).

Însă întrebarea e dacă nu e cumva mai degrabă procesul de gândire (”connection of ideas”) cel care ne ajută să construim știința, și nu principiile de la care pornim.

Teofil 1: Este adevărat că formularea de propoziții universale ne ”ușurează” memoria (de pildă, nu e nevoie să demonstrăm o teoremă de mai multe ori etc.). Însă propozițiile universale nu apar direct din cercetarea empirică, pentru că aceasta are de-a face doar cu particulare (e asemenea problemei bazei empirice, de care am vorbit semestrul trecut). Dar uneori se pare că avem principii universale din care derivăm cunoaștere despre particulare, însă aceste principii, din nou, nu provin din surse empirice. Rezultă că aceste principii sunt apriori și că există în mințile fiecăruia dintre noi.

Phil 2: Nu sunt aceste principii apriori de fapt asumpții? Ce ne garantează că nu acceptăm de fapt asumpții nejustifcate (deghizate în principii corecte)? Cum știm că principiile pe care le avem sunt certe? Certitudine vine doar din ”comparison of ideas” (din nou. Să discutăm ce înseamnă termenul).

Teofil 2: Ne referim la principii adevărate, nu la principii acceptate în mod arbitrar (nici măcar Aristotel nu obținea principii în mod arbitrar). De fapt, și principiile cu un grad mai mic de certitudine sunt ok, pentru că ne permit să construim cunoaștere ipotetică (numai că trebuie să nu luăm cunoaștere ipotetică drept cunoaștere certă). Uneori cunoașterea ipotetică poate fi verificată dacă inferențele (numeroase) obținute din principii doar probabile sunt deja cunoscute pornind de la alte principii, certe (de discutat. Ce formă logică am avea aici?).

Euclid nu a reușit să ofere o definiție a dreptei (pentru că nu a găsit una ferită de imaginație, care s-ar baza pe experiență și prin urmare ar fi neadecvată) , ci a folosit două axiome pentru a o descrie. De fapt, știința nu se poate consturi din asocieri și comparații de idei (”agreement and disagreement of ideas”), ci are nevoie de demonstrații (poate cu excepția geometriei practice provizorii). Mai mult decât atât, știința (geometria, de exemplu) servește și drept un fel de medicină a minții, pentru că e un model de gândire corectă (incertitudinea omaginației vs. certitudinea demonstrației). Ba chiar mai mult, geometria se ocupă cu contemplarea adevărurilor eterne și necesare (prin opoziție cu ideile empirice confuze). Peisajul e de fapt ceva mai fine grained: Euclid a acceptat și unele axiome provenite din imaginație, însă a fost atent să le separe de cele certe. Cumva tot e mai bine decât ca geometria să nu fi progresat deloc. 

Phil 3: Începe să înțeleagă de ce cercetarea trebuie modelată după exemplul matematicianului. Poate am putea construi și morala după acelați model.

Teo 3: Într-adevăr.

Phil 4: Însă cunoașterea substanțelor pare a fi de alt tip, pentru că pornește de le experiență. În acest caz, chiar dacă avem intelectul antrenat de modelul matematicienilor, tot n-am putea obține decât cunoaștere probabilă. Așa că se pare că filosofia naturală nu poate deveni știință (tot ce putem face e să tragem niște foloase practice de pe urma istoriilor naturale).

Teo 4: Într-adevăr, nu putem spune că toate subdisciplinele filosofiei naturale vor fi științe. Însă unele sunte, precum știința magneților (dintr-un număr mic de principii obținute din experiență putem explica, dar și prezice, fenoneme? ”from a few assumotions grounded in experience we can demonstrate by rigurous inference a large number of phenomena which do in fact occur in the way we see to be implied by reason”. De discutat).

Phil 5: Atunci morala este o știință  (mai curând decât filosofia naurală). Însă dacă am putea construi știința după modelul discutat aici, am obține și beneficii practice mult mai mari decât cele pe care le avem acum.

Teo 5: Într-adevăr.

Phil 6: Ce ne facem cu ipotezele probabile? Mintea noastră are tendița să generalizeze prea repede.

Teo 6: Arta Descoperirii este asemenea descifrării: uneori avem nevoie și de noroc (”an inspired guess often provides a generous shortcut”). Doar că tot ne mai trebuie și o artă a experimentării (”art of using experiments). Cam așa ceva, dar nu sunt deloc sigur pe interpretarea asta. Voi ce interpretări aveți?

Interesant: Boyle este criticat pentru că ar fi obținut principiul mecanicizării naturii din experimente. Pentru Leibniz, certitudinea acestui principiu poate fi garantată doar apriori (? ”by reason alone”) și nu printr-o artă a experimentrăii.

Phil 7: Chiar dacă am ajuns la idei clare și distincte, încă mai avem de descoperit ideile intermediare, care ne vor ajuta să comparăm primul set de idei. Problema e că ideile intermediare nu vor fi furnizate de către principii.

Teo 7: Axiomele se folosesc, de fapt, pentru a conecta idei (?). Un exemplu cu squaring the circle.

Întrebări de avut în vedere:

1.         Cum arată teoria științei pentru Leibniz? Cum ar arăta ”an ultimate analysis” despre care vorbește Teophil? 

2.         Care sunt diferențele (dar și asemănările) dintre matematici și științele empirice?

3.         Cum obținem principiile?

4.         Ce este ”the comparison of ideas”?

5.         Ce este ”the art of using experiments”?

6.         Cum arată arta descoperirii?


Here are some relevant publications belonging to the members of our team

  1. Dana Jalobeanu (2020). Francis Bacon’s “Perceptive” Instruments, Early Science and Medicine, 25 (6), 594-617.
  2. Dana Jalobeanu (2020). Experiments in the Making: Instruments and Forms of Quantification in Francis Bacon’s Historia Densi et RariEarly Science and Medicine25(4), 360-387. doi:
  3. Dana Jalobeanu (2020), Enacting recipes: Francis Bacon and Giovan Battista Della Porta on technologies, experiments and processes of nature, Centaurus, 62 (3) 425-446.
  4. Dana Jalobeanu and Oana Matei (2020), Treating plants and laboratories: A chemical history of vegetation in 17th century England, Centaurus, 62 (3) 542-561.