HPS Colloquia 2016 - 2017

image of doorway with skeleton

The colloquium meets generally three times per quarter on Thursdays at 4:30
in the Lane History Building, Room 307, unless noted below.


  • Tools of Reason: The Practice of Scientific Diagramming from Antiquity to the Present

    February 10 - 11th, 2017 9am-5pm
    Stanford Humanities Center, Levinthal Hall

    poster for workshop

    See the complete program, abstracts and more

    Organized by Greg Priest and Silvia De Toffoli, with Professor Paula Findlen. Speakers are:

    *John Bender (Stanford University)

    *Jessica Carter (University of Southern Denmark)

    *Karine Chemla (CNRS SPHère)

    *Silvia De Toffoli (Stanford University)

    *Paula Findlen (Stanford University)

    *Valeria Giardino (CNRS Archives Henri Poincarè)

    *Jim Griesemer (UC Davis)

    *Eunsoo Lee (Stanford University)

    *Melissa Lo (The Huntington Library)

    *Kenneth Manders (University of Pittsburgh)

    *Michael Marrinan (Stanford University)

    *Marco Panza (CNRS IHPST)

    *Jenny Pegg (Stanford University)

    *Greg Priest (Stanford University)

    *Jessica Riskin (Stanford University)

    *Rasmus Winther (UC Santa Cruz)

    *Norton Wise (UCLA)

    Diagrams are pervasive features of the communication, explanation, and discovery of scientific and mathematical ideas. Too often, however, we tend to see diagrams primarily as static visual summaries of the propositional contents of theories. But diagrams are also tools for thought: they make visible features of phenomena that would otherwise be invisible or opaque, and they concretize and externalize specific reasoning processes. Moreover, diagramming is an activity that consists in creating and modifying diagrams with epistemic aims. Understanding diagrams therefore requires an investigation of how they are used in practice.

    This interdisciplinary workshop will interrogate the practice of diagramming in the sciences and in mathematics by focusing on specific case studies. We seek to explore questions such as: What exactly does any particular diagram make visible? To whom is it directed? What kind of reasoning does it concretize and externalize? How is it affected by, and how does it in turn affect, the scientific, cultural, social and institutional contexts in which it is created? What is its epistemological status? Can the diagram be meaningfully described as “true” or “false,” and if so, on what basis can such judgments be made? How do we distinguish between more useful, less useful, and even pernicious diagrams? What features of a diagram, or its use, are responsible for its effectiveness or ineffectiveness as a reasoning tool?

    Co-sponsored by the Humanities Center, the Departments of History and Philosophy, the Suppes Center for History and Philosophy of Science.


  • Jessica Carter, University of Southern Denmark

    "Logic of Relations and Diagrammatic reasoning: Structuralist elements in the work of Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914)".

    Building 240, Room 101

    4:30pm, February 14, 2017

    The talk presents aspects of the work of Charles Sanders Peirce illustrating that he adhered to a number of the pre-structuralist themes. We shall present some of his contributions to mathematics as well as philosophy in order to show that relations occupied a privileged role. When writing about results in mathematics he often uses the phrase that they are based on his 'logic of relatives', and he refers to the reasoning of mathematics as 'diagrammatic reasoning'. Besides pointing to structural themes in Peirce's work much of this exposition will be devoted to explaining what is meant by these two phrases.


  • Daniela Bleichmar, U. of Southern California

    with the CMEMS workshop

    "History of Science in the Art Museum"

    History Building 200, Room 307

    4:30pm, February 23, 2017

    Abstract: How do we write the history of science in objects and images? How does an art museum today present the story of early modern cultural encounters in science and art? This talk will address the role of images, books, and objects in the production and circulation of knowledge about Latin American nature in the early modern period, as well as the challenges and opportunities that scholars face in presenting their research to broad audiences in a museum context. The discussion will be based on the experience of curating the upcoming international exhibition, Visual Voyages: Images of Latin American Nature from Columbus to Darwin, opening in Fall 2017.


  • Lissa Roberts, University of Twente, Editor of History of Science, Kratter Visiting Professor to Stanford

    title TBA

    location TBA

    noon, April 11, 2017
    Please RSVP for lunch to rrogers


  • ‘Ilm-u-‘Amal: Knowledge, Nature and Technology in the Late Medieval & Early Modern Muslim World, 1250-1850

    April 14 - 15th, 2017 9am-5pm
    History Building 200, Room 307

    organized by Duygu Yildirim, and Professors Ali Yaycioglu, Tuna Artun, and Paula Findlen. Speakers include:

    *Lissa Roberts (University of Twente)

    *Tuna Artun (Rutgers)

    *Harun Kucuk (University of Pennsylvania)

    *Robert Morrison (Bowdoin)

    *Matthew Melvin-Koushki (USC)

    *Nahyan Fancy (DePauw)

    *Sabine Schmidtke (IAS)

    *Maria Mavroudi (UC, Berkeley)

    *Nuket Varlik (Rutgers)

    *Baki Tezcan (UC Davis)

    Co-sponsored by the Abassi Program, the Department of History, the Suppes Center for History and Philosophy of Science.


  • Robin Barnes, Davidson College, on his recently published book, Astrology and Reformation

    Co-sponsored with the CMEMS workshop and co-sponsored by Religious Studies

    location TBA

    4:30pm, April 26, 2017

  • "Digital Humanities Asia: 2017 Workshop events" organized by Professor Tom Mullaney

    various dates in Jan, Feb, April and May, 2017

    Registration required, all events at the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis, Wallenberg Hall (bldg 160), 4th floor



Previous events of the year

  • Pietro_Longhi The Apothecary Valentia Pugliano, Cambridge University

    LOCAL SCIENCE, ARTISAN SCIENCE: STUDYING NATURE IN THE RENAISSANCE PHARMACY SHOP

    Abstract: In this talk I will introduce an important site of scientific discussion and experimentation of the European Renaissance that has received little attention so far: the pharmacy shop. Apothecaries were among the most numerous enthusiasts of natural history in early modern Europe. Yet, their involvement, like that of many artisans in science, has traditionally been considered tangential to the development of natural history’s polity and intellectual concerns. Taking the case of Italy, I will argue otherwise: apothecaries not only provided crucial practical knowledge and brokering services for the running of natural history, but also contributed to spread its vogue and inflected the interests of its practitioners. Central to this dynamic was the pharmacy shop, at once a repository of naturalia, a testing room with useful equipment, and a meeting place for like-minded individuals interested in conversing about nature. I will show how the average pharmacy could become a reference point for aspiring naturalists at the local level of the town; and, in turn, how this ‘shop natural history’ brings to light an urban science which, pursued in person and off paper, was the daily, informal counterpoint to the epistolary study of nature on which most scholarship has concentrated so far.


    4:30pm Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

    History Room 307


  • Ben Breen, University of California, Santa Cruz

    with the CMEMS workshop

    "Secret Books and Secret Nature in the Eighteenth Century Lusophone World"

    location: Bldg 260 Room 216

    noon, November 2, 2016


  • Workshop on Intersections of Science, Language, & Literature in Modern and Premodern Korea

    location: Lathrop Library, Room 224
    518 Memorial Way

    November 4-5, 2016
    Please RSVP at the link above


  • Bart Bernstein, Stanford University History Professor Emeritus

    " J. Robert Oppenheimer and Black Holes: The Many Puzzles"

    location: Bldg 200 Room 307

    noon, December 12, 2016
    Please RSVP to rrogers at stanford for lunch



  • Catherine Jami, Centre national de la recherche scientifique and the Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

    "Science and Empire: The view from from Beijing, c. 1700"

    Abstract: Twentieth century historiography has consistently depicted China as patient rather than as agent in the history of imperialism. This view ignores the fact that from the mid-seventeenth century onwards, Beijing was the centre of a large and aggressively expanding empire, an empire unique in that the great majority of its conquests remain intact to the present day. The neglected example of this great land empire enables us to transcend the stereotype of science and empire studies as mainly or solely concerned with the expansion of European powers overseas. In this talk, I will show how the sciences of empire were constructed during the first century of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Conversely, I will explore the extent to and the ways in which the Qing expansion in central Asia broadened the Chinese world of knowledge.

    Location Bldg 200 Room 307

    4:30pm, Tuesday, January 17, 2017
    Co-sponsored by CEAS


  • James Woodward, History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh

    "Causation with a Human Face"

    Abstract: This talk will explore some of the interrelations between normative/ philosophical theorizing about causation and more descriptive empirical research into causal reasoning of the sort conducted by psychologists. (I include in the former category work going on in statistics and computer science as well as philosophy departments.) I will suggest that each of these enterprises can illuminate the other—among other things, philosophical theories can suggest possible experiments and aid in the analysis of experimental results and experimental results can suggest possibilities for normative theorizing that may not otherwise be salient. I will illustrate these general claims with some specific examples involving the role of considerations like invariance and proportionality in causal thinking. Time permitting, I will also attempt to extract some general morals regarding the kinds of interactions between empirical work and philosophical theorizing that are most likely to be fruitful.

    location: Bldg 200 Room 307

    4:30pm, January 26, 2017

  • Previous Year's HPST Colloquia


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