The Historical Epistemology of Scientific Styles

9th International Workshop on Historical Epistemology

27-28 June – Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia


JUNE 27, 2024 (Sala Morelli) 

9:00 Welcome

9:15 Guillermo Cimbora Acosta, Universidad de Sevilla

Denkstil, self-vindication, and the dialectic of experimental practices.

10:00 Stefano Pilotto, Sapienza Università di Roma

Thinking by tools. Observations on a “technical style” in history of science

11:15 Luca Sciortino, Ecampus University

Styles of reasoning and the demarcation problem 

12:00 Sofia Abelha, Universität Wien

What is new about anti-exceptionalism about logic?

15:00 Eleonora Montuschi, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia

Styles of scientific practice: the case of citizen science

15:45 Luis F. Bartolo Alegre, LMU München

Is logic a style of reasoning?

17:00 Ben Toth, CFCUL Lisbon

The summer of theory. Crombie and Foucault, styles and fields


JUNE 28, 2024 (Aula Baratto)

9:30 Antoine Auvé, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Style and personality in Dilthey’s epistemology: from the method of the historian to the historiography of the emergence of modern science

10:15 Paolo Babbiotti, Università di Torino

Two stylistics methods for “the problem of style” in philosophy. Compression and lingering (in Bernard Williams and Stanley Cavell) 

11:30 Aurore Franco-Ricord, IHPST Paris

Scientific styles and cultures struggles: the case of endosymbiotic theory

12:15 Caroline Angleraux, INSERM Tours

Styles and desuetude: the case study of Haeckel’s monera

15:00 Julia Reed, Bar-Ilan University

Scientific styles of making and re-making sex

15:45 Matteo Pasquinelli, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia

Three styles of AI: induction, vectorialisation, and modelling 

17:00 Johannes Endres, University of California Riverside

Style and epistemology: basic strictures, and open questions


This workshop is organized by:

Épistémologie Historique. Research Network on the History and the Methods of Historical Epistemology

With the support of: 

Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Dipartimento di Filosofia e Beni Culturali;

IHPST (UMR 8590, Paris 1/CNRS);

Université de Bourgogne, LIR3S (UMR 7366 CNRS-uB)

IMGWF, Universität zu Lübeck

Organizing committee:

Caroline Angleraux (iBrain U1253, INSERM de Tours)
Lucie Fabry (Université de Bourgogne, LIR3S)
Iván Moya-Diez (IMGWF, Universität zu Lübeck)

Perceval Pillon (IHPST)

Matteo Vagelli (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)

Further information:


Variations on Styles, Historical and Philosophical Perspectives

Spring 2024 – Online Seminar

Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia – Department of Philosophy and Cultural HeritageEuropean Commission – This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101030646, “EPISTYLE”

Organizer:Matteo Vagelli (Ca’ Foscari/Harvard)

Link zoom:

APRIL 29, 2024

17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

Chunglin Kwa, University of Amsterdam

The Dance and the Machine: The Islamic Reinterpretation of Ptolemy 

MAY 20, 2024

17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

Paolo Babbiotti, Università di Torino

Some Reflections on Style from the Perspective of Contemporary Anglo- American Philosophy

MAY 27, 2024

17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

Monica Calabritto, CUNYTruth, Verisimilitude, and Fiction: Narrativizing Early Modern Medicine and Law

JUNE 3, 2024

17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

Sergio Martinez, UNAM

Styles of Reasoning as Emergent Features of Cognitive Niches

JUNE 24, 2023

17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

Arianna Betti & Hein van den Berg, University of Amsterdam

Hacking for the Future: How to Model Styles of Reasoning and Scientific Revolutions


Matteo Vagelli, PhD

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice/Harvard University)

CFP – 9th International Workshop on Historical Epistemology: The Historical Epistemology of Scientific Styles (Venice, 27-28 June 2024)

Call for papers

9th International Workshop on Historical Epistemology

The Historical Epistemology of Scientific Styles

Venice, 27-28 June 2024



Presentation of the research network

This Workshop is the 9th edition of the annual meeting of the International Research Network on the History and Methods of Historical Epistemology. This network, founded in 2015, currently brings together 80 members from different countries, whose work is related to historical epistemology in a broad sense. It thus welcomes specialists in French epistemology of the xx century as well as people who have contributed to the renewal of historical epistemology under the impulse of members of the Max Planck Institute in the history of science. The objective of the activities of this network is not so much to separate historical epistemology radically from other studies of science, but rather to create a dialogue between different philosophical studies on the history of knowledge that pay particular attention to the conditions of emergence of scientific disciplines and their objects.

Each edition of the Workshop focuses on a specific theme. The previous edition, held in Dijon, was dedicated to the philosophy of environmental sciences. The former ones focused on the following themes: “Arts and Sciences, Historicizing Boundaries” (2022), “Historical Epistemology and Epistemology of History” (2020), “The Philosophy of Life Sciences: historical epistemology of biology and medicine” (2019), “Historical epistemology and the disunity of science” (2018), “For an historical epistemology of technological transformations” (2017), “A history of the present” (2016); “Historical epistemology: beginnings and current issues” (2015). The programs and arguments of the previous editions can be found at

Presentation of the 2024 edition on scientific styles

The 2024 edition of the workshop will also be the closing event of the EPISTYLE project “Style Matters: Scientific Pluralism and its Early-Modern Sources”, led by Matteo Vagelli under the supervision of Hasok Chang, Peter Galison and Marco Sgarbi since 2021. It will invite network members to contribute to the reflections on the key questions of the EPISTYLE project: “what happened to the traditional concept of style when it was migrated from rhetoric and the arts to the fields of history and philosophy of science? Where does the idea of different ‘styles’ of knowing come from, and how did the idea of an historically evolving plurality of standards of scientific inquiry emerge? To what extent do the objects of the sciences owe their existence to the styles that have enabled them to emerge and rendered them thinkable?”. For a presentation of the EPISTYLE project and its past activities see epistyle.

At different times and in different contexts, the notion of ‘style’ has been linked to knowledge and science (e.g. Fleck 1935, Daston-Otte 1991; Crombie 1994; Hacking 1982, 1992; Davidson 2001; Bredekamp-Schneider-Dünkel 2015; see Vicedo 1995, Gayon 1999, Sciortino 2023). Philosophers, historians, sociologists and scientists have made appeal to this notion generally in order to highlight the plurality and historicity of scientific ‘ways of thinking’. Since the 1970s, ‘style’ became involved in the so-called ‘pluralist turn’ in history and philosophy of science. (e.g. Ruphy 2017; see Vagelli 2024)

In contrast with the contemporary prevalence of empirically oriented micro-histories, styles of reasoning have been recognized as part of attempts at thinking up new forms of ‘big picture’ histories of science: “not as grand linear narratives, but as multi-levelled accounts of the conditions that made different kinds of science possible.” (Elwick 2012) In this light, a comparative anthropology of non-Western ‘styles of inquiry’ (e.g. Lloyd 2004) and an ‘ecological history’ of human reason have also been undertaken. (e.g. Hacking 2012)

This workshop is motivated by the question of whether ‘scientific styles’, variously defined, can be an object for historical epistemology. We will start by investigating the relation that a history of ‘scientific styles’ entertains with ‘classical’ historical epistemologies by Gaston Bachelard and Georges Canguilhem, for instance, or with Michel Foucault’s archaeological and genealogical models of historiography. Do these different approaches resonate with one another and to what extent? For example, Gilles-Gaston Granger’s use of the concept of style could be compared with later uses of the concept by Hacking. (Granger 1968)

The historical and epistemological underpinnings as well as the historiographic consequences of the notion of “style” will be at the center of the 9th Workshop on Historical Epistemology. We hope the discussion will be a moment for philosophers, historians and sociologists of science to encounter scholars with different methodological approaches. In particular, we expect contributions falling along one or more of the following five axes:

  1. Rediscovering ‘styles’: Who (why, when, and where) contributed to the idea of science and knowledge being characterized by one or more styles of thinking and doing? The workshop encourages further study of both better known as well as relatively neglected or uncharted sources for the idea of ‘styles’ in science. These can be found, especially, but not exclusively, in the work of philosophers, historians, sociologists, as well as in that by scientists themselves.
  2. A history of scientific ‘styles’: Is ‘style’ equally apt to account for continuity and discontinuity in the history of science and knowledge? Is it only meant to highlight the relativity of ‘styles of thinking’ or can it also be constructed in order to be able to account for progress in science? To what extent does the style-concept allow the mapping and refined analysis of emerging forms of science, such as those underpinning, for instance, artificial intelligence and the environmental sciences?
  3. ‘Styles’ from within/from without: What is the relation between ‘styles’ and their exteriority? Can the demarcation problem be rephrased through the notion of ‘style’? What makes a style of reasoning ‘scientific’ and what is the relation between scientific and ‘non-scientific’ styles (i.e. both literary, artistic, religious and ordinary or common-sense styles)? Can forms of knowledge ‘from below’, ‘citizen science’ or ‘community science’ be conceived of as ‘research styles’ in their own terms? What does the adoption of a given ‘style’ of inquiry imply on the level of the shaping of the scientific-selves? Can not only a history of forms of objectivity, but also of forms of subjectivities be told from the perspective of scientific styles?
  4. Social epistemology of ‘styles’: Since Fleck (1935), sociological analyses of scientific styles have played an important role in science studies. (e.g. Harwood 1993; Hunger-Seebacher-Holzer 2010) Moving from this background, and taking stock of the more recent acquisitions of STS approaches, we would like to raise the question as to what role does the intersubjective and collective dimension of ‘style’ play in the establishment, success and/or failure of given forms of investigation? What are the social conditions and larger implications of scientific ‘styles’? Is the talk of ‘national styles’ in science still relevant today? Is a ‘stylistic’ inquiry of science capable of capturing the institutional aspects and the power-dynamics at stake in the production of knowledge?
  5. Alternative concepts to styles: What is the added value (if any) of an analysis of knowledge and science conducted in ‘stylistic’ terms? What does the word and the concept of “style” add (if anything) to concepts such as ‘methods’, ‘ways of knowing’, or ‘research programmes’? What are the blind spots and presuppositions of the concept of style? What objections can be addressed to approaches that use this concept, from the perspective of philosophy, history and sociology of science?

Proposals (500 words plus a short presentation of the candidate) must be sent by April 15, 2024 (notification of acceptance or refusal will be sent by April 31), in .doc format, to The workshop will be conducted in English.


Bredekamp H., Schneider B. and Dünkel, V. eds. 2015. The Technical Image: A History of Styles in Scientific Imagery. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Crombie, A. C. 1994. Styles of scientific thinking in the European tradition: The history of argument and explanation especially in the mathematical and biomedical sciences and arts (Vol. 3). London: Duckworth.

Daston, L. and Otte, M. eds. 1991. Style in Science, special issue of Science in Context, vol. 4, no 2.

Davidson, A. 2001. The emergence of sexuality: Historical epistemology and the formation of concepts. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Elwick, J. 2012. Layered History: Styles of Reasoning as Stratified Conditions of Possibility. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, Part Special Issue: Styles of Thinking, 43, no. 4 (December 1, 2012): 619–27.

Fleck, L. 1935 [1979]. Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.                          

Gayon, J. 1999, On the uses of the category of style in the history of science. Philosophy & Rhetoric 32/3: 233-246.                                                 

Granger, G.-G. 1968. Essai d’une philosophie du style. Philosophies pour l’âge de la science. Paris: A. Colin.

Hacking, I. 1982. Language, truth and reason. In M. Hollis & S. Lukes (Eds.), Rationality and relativism (pp. 48–66). Oxford: Blackwell.

Hacking, I. 1992. ‘Style’ for historians and for philosophers. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 23(1), 1–20.

Hacking, I. 2012. Language, truth and reason thirty years later. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 43: 599–609.

Harwood, J. 1993. Styles of Thought. The German Genetics Community 1900-1933. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hunger, H., Seebacher, F. and Holzer, G. eds. 2010. Styles of Thinking in Science and Technology. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference of the European Society for the History of Science, Vienna, VÖAW Verlag. Lloyd, G. 2004. Ancient Worlds, Modern Reflections: Philosophical Perspectives on Greek and Chinese Science and Culture. Oxford University Press.

Ruphy, S. 2017. Scientific Pluralism Reconsidered. A New Approach to the (Dis)unity of Science. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Sciortino, L. 2023. History of Rationalities. Ways of Thinking from Vico to Hacking and Beyond. Cham: Palgrave MacMillan.

Vagelli, M. 2024. Styles of Science and the Pluralist Turn: Between Inclusion and Exclusion. Revue de synthèse 145(7), 3/4: DOI: 10.1163/19552343-14234053

Vicedo, M. 1995. Scientific Styles: Toward Some Common Ground in the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science. Perspectives on Science 3/2: 231-5.

This workshop is organized by:

Épistémologie Historique. Research Network on the History and the Methods of Historical Epistemology

With the support of:

  • Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage;
  • European Commission (This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101030646, “EPISTYLE”);
  • IHPST (UMR 8590, Paris 1/CNRS);
  • LIR3S (Laboratoire interdisciplinaire de recherche Sociétés, Sensibilité, Soin, UMR7366 CNRS-université de Bourgogne);
  • IMGWF, Universität zu Lübeck.

Organizing committee:

Caroline Angleraux (iBrain U1253, INSERM de Tours)
Lucie Fabry (Université de Bourgogne, LIR3S)
Iván Moya-Diez (IMGWF, Universität zu Lübeck)
Perceval Pillon (IHPST, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)
Matteo Vagelli (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)

Call for abstracts: Styles of Thinking & Doing in the Ecological History of Scientific Knowledge and Practices (Symposium at the 11th ESHS Conference, Barcelona 4-7 September 2024)

Dear colleagues,

Please find below a call for contributions to the 11th ESHS Conference (Barcelona, September 2024), on the symposium Styles of Thinking & Doing in the Ecological History of Scientific Knowledge and Practices.

Interested scholars are invited to send a paper proposal by November 18th, 2023 to Matteo Vagelli ( and Joseba Pascual-Alba (

Proposals should include a file of two pages with the following information:

    – (Page 1): Name, affiliation and a short bio (max 150 words).

    – (Page 2): Title and abstract (max 250 words).

Best wishes,

Matteo, Joseba


Call for contributions:

Proposal for a Symposium at the 11th ESHS Conference, Barcelona 4-7 September 2024. Science, Technology, Humanity and the Earth.

Symposium: Styles of Thinking & Doing in the Ecological History of Scientific Knowledge and Practices

Ian Hacking (1982) initiated the project of exploring ‘styles of scientific reasoning’ by drawing from Alistair C. Crombie’s (1994) historical investigation on ‘styles of scientific thinking in the European tradition.’ Through this project, Hacking emphasized that ‘reason has a history’ and how standards of rationality emerge and evolve historically. Recognized as a valuable historical and philosophical tool for analysis (Hacking 1992), various historians and philosophers of science began incorporating this concept into their research (e.g., Davidson 1987; Gavroglu 1990; Schweber 1997; Radick 2000; Reck 2009; Elwick 2007; Winther 2012, 2013, 2015).

In later installments of his style project, Hacking (2012) related what he came to call ‘styles of thinking & doing’ to a cognitive and an ‘ecological’ history of reason (Atran 1990; Netz 1999). The aim of this symposium is to provide a reassessment of Hacking’s project, by engaging closely and critically with Hacking’s arguments on scientific styles. In this respect, some of the questions that this symposium will discuss are: What are the implications of Hacking’s theory of scientific styles at the level of language, truth, and understanding? What roles have styles played throughout the history of the sciences? How effective are styles as a historical-philosophical tool for comprehending scientific knowledge and practices? In what philosophical and historical ways could this project be further developed, especially within the context of an ecological history? 

Appel à contributions pour le Cahier Bachelard n° 18 : Suzanne Bachelard

Les propositions d’articles, d’une longueur de 30 000 à 50 000 signes, espaces et bibliographie comprises, doivent être envoyées par mail à l’adresse d’ici le 20 décembre.

Les propositions retenues par le comité éditorial seront ensuite soumises à une évaluation en double-aveugle par des pairs. Voir le Guide pour la préparation des manuscrits.

De Suzanne Bachelard, née en 1919 et décédée en 2007, on retient souvent les photos de Suzanne enfant, fille unique de Gaston Bachelard, élevée par son père qui l’a initiée dès son plus jeune âge aux congrès de philosophie. Au-delà de cette image, l’œuvre et la carrière de cette historienne et philosophe des sciences ont jusqu’à présent été peu étudiées. Ce numéro des Cahiers Bachelard cherche à y remédier en invitant à analyser différents aspects de la vie et de l’œuvre de Suzanne Bachelard.

Licenciée de mathématiques et agrégée de philosophie en 1946, Suzanne Bachelard commence sa carrière comme agrégée-répétitrice à l’École normale supérieure de Sèvres, et soutient ses thèses de doctorat d’État en 1957. Sa thèse principale de doctorat d’État a pour titre La conscience de rationalité : étude phénoménologique sur la physique mathématique (Suzanne Bachelard 1958a; Russo 1959) ; sa thèse complémentaire consiste en une traduction et un commentaire de Logique formelle et logique transcendantale de Husserl (Husserl 1957; Suzanne Bachelard 1958b; Lacroix 1958; Piatier 1957). Suzanne Bachelard obtient d’abord un poste de professeure à l’université de Lille, avant de devenir professeure à la Sorbonne en 1963 et directrice de l’Institut d’histoire des sciences et des techniques de 1971 à 1984 (Mosconi 2007; Pariente 2007; Gayon 2016).

Nous mettons en avant trois axes dans l’étude de son œuvre, tout en accueillant toute autre proposition qui entrerait dans le thème de ce numéro.

Axe 1 : Une réception de la phénoménologie husserlienne

Un premier axe d’étude de l’œuvre de Suzanne Bachelard consiste à étudier son rôle dans l’histoire de la phénoménologie française et, plus spécialement, dans l’histoire des réceptions françaises de la phénoménologie husserlienne. On pourra lire, dans cette perspective, le commentaire que Suzanne Bachelard a proposé de la logique de Husserl (Suzanne Bachelard 1958b; Benoist 1997), mais également l’effort proposé dans La conscience de rationalité pour appréhender la spécificité de la démarche scientifique en mobilisant les ressources conjointes de l’épistémologie bachelardienne et de la phénoménologie husserlienne.

Dans l’étude de ces textes, on pourra notamment se demander si Suzanne Bachelard reconnaît la pertinence de l’opposition entre une « philosophie du sujet » et une « philosophie du concept » dont Foucault (1994) a soutenu qu’elle était structurante dans l’histoire de la philosophie française du XXe siècle, ou si elle contribue à la remettre en cause. Foucault trouvait cette distinction formulée dans l’œuvre de Jean Cavaillès (1947), qui avait élaboré sa propre conception de l’activité scientifique dans une critique serrée de la logique transcendantale husserlienne (Vissio 2019). On pourra ainsi se demander ce qui singularise l’approche de Suzanne Bachelard parmi ces lectures épistémologiques de Husserl, en la comparant à celles qui ont été proposées par Cavaillès ou par des auteurs comme Gilles-Gaston Granger ou Jean-Toussaint Desanti.

Axe 2 : Suzanne Bachelard historienne des sciences

L’autre axe mis en avant dans ce numéro porte sur la pratique de l’histoire des sciences portée par Suzanne Bachelard. Nous accorderons une place importante à l’article « Épistémologie et histoire des sciences » (Suzanne Bachelard 1970), où elle définit ses propres orientations historiographiques en prenant position par rapport à celles de Gaston Bachelard (1972), mais aussi d’Alexandre Koyré (1966), Georges Canguilhem (1955) ou Michel Serres (1967). Selon Suzanne Bachelard, les principes historiographiques défendus dans « L’actualité de l’histoire des sciences » (Gaston Bachelard 1972) fondent une historiographie où « l’intérêt pour l’histoire est subordonné à l’intérêt pour la science » (Suzanne Bachelard 1970, p. 44). Soulignant les limites de cette dernière approche, elle cherche à ouvrir la possibilité d’une étude des sciences qui, tout en continuant à se présenter comme une « histoire épistémologique » (p. 46) et à assumer un caractère rétrospectif et normatif, propose une mise en œuvre plus prudente de l’histoire récurrente, qui se concentre sur « la micro-histoire » (p. 49) plutôt que sur les grands récits, et qui met en question les découpages spontanés du savoir. On pourra ainsi chercher à situer les positions de Suzanne Bachelard dans les débats sur la spécificité de l’histoire des sciences (Grimoult 2003), en les comparant notamment aux textes de Canguilhem (1975; 2009) ou Foucault (2008) qui reprennent également de l’œuvre de Gaston Bachelard cette question de la spécificité de l’histoire des sciences.

Un autre texte qui pourra retenir l’attention est « Quelques aspects historiques des notions de modèle et de justification des modèles » (Suzanne Bachelard 1979), où Suzanne Bachelard apporte une contribution à une épistémologie des modèles (Perru 2004; Varenne 2014), en formulant notamment une critique des thèses de Pierre Duhem (2016). Pour voir ces partis pris épistémologiques et historiographiques à l’œuvre dans l’étude de l’histoire des sciences, il serait particulièrement précieux de proposer une lecture des études historiques qui nourrissent La conscience de rationalité, prolongés par les travaux en histoire de la mécanique que Suzanne Bachelard a consacrés à Maupertuis et au principe de moindre action (Suzanne Bachelard 1958c; Suzanne Bachelard 1961), et par ses travaux en histoire de l’algèbre (Suzanne Bachelard 1967).

Axe 3 : Suzanne héritière et éditrice de Gaston

Un troisième axe consisterait à approfondir l’étude de ce qu’a impliqué, pour Suzanne Bachelard, d’être la fille de Gaston. Nous avons déjà mis en avant, dans la présentation des deux axes précédents, l’importance que le dialogue avec l’œuvre de Gaston Bachelard avait prise dans son propre itinéraire d’historienne et de philosophe des sciences. Mais parallèlement à cette comparaison des œuvres des deux Bachelard qui cherche à y déceler des formes d’héritage intellectuel, d’autres ressources pourraient être mobilisées pour interroger ce statut d’héritière d’un point de vue sociologique. On pourrait par exemple se proposer d’éclairer la trajectoire de Suzanne Bachelard par une étude sociologique des carrières féminines (Fauvel, Coffin et Trochu 2019), qui interroge les formes et les effets qu’a eu sur cette carrière le fait d’être immédiatement identifiée comme étant la fille de Gaston Bachelard. Une telle étude pourrait ainsi contribuer à montrer quelles possibilités et quelles impossibilités caractérisent les carrières féminines placées sous le signe de l’héritage du père, Suzanne Bachelard offrant une étude de cas remarquable dans la mesure où elle a occupé, à la fin de sa carrière, exactement les mêmes fonctions que celles qu’avait son père.

Il est également possible d’aborder cette question de l’héritage en un sens plus littéral, pour souligner que Suzanne Bachelard a eu un rôle d’exécutrice testamentaire. On pourra notamment étudier, dans cette perspective, le travail éditorial effectué par Suzanne Bachelard dans la publication posthume des *Fragments d’une poétique du feu* de Gaston Bachelard, en se demandant quels ont été les choix effectués dans l’établissement du texte, et quelle lecture Suzanne Bachelard y a donné de l’œuvre de son père.

Bibliographie indicative

Bachelard Gaston, 1972, « L’Actualité de l’histoire des sciences » dans L’engagement rationaliste, Paris, Presses universitaires de France (coll. « Bibliothèque de philosophie contemporaine »), p. 137‑152.

Bachelard Suzanne, 1979, « Quelques aspects historiques des notions de modèles et de justification de modèles » dans Élaboration et justification des modèles, Paris, Maloine, vol. 2/1, p. 3‑19.

Bachelard Suzanne, 1970, « Épistémologie et histoire des sciences » dans Actes du XIIe congrès international d’histoire des sciences, 1. A : Colloques, textes des rapports, Paris, A. Blanchard, p. 39‑51.

Bachelard Suzanne, 1967, La représentation géométrique des quantités imaginaires au début du XIXe siècle, Paris, Palais de la Découverte (coll. « Les conférences du Palais de la Découverte Histoire des sciences »).

Bachelard Suzanne, 1961, Les polémiques concernant le principe de moindre action au XVIIIe siècle, Paris, Palais de la Découverte (coll. « Les conférences du Palais de la Découverte – Histoire des sciences »).

Bachelard Suzanne, 1958a, La Conscience de rationalité, étude phénoménologique sur la physique mathématique, Paris, Presses universitaires de France.

Bachelard Suzanne, 1958b, « La Logique de Husserl », Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1958, vol. 19, no 1, p. 126‑127.

Bachelard Suzanne, 1958c, « Maupertuis et le principe de la moindre action », Thalès, 1958, vol. 9, p. 3‑36.

Benoist Jocelyn, 1997, Phénoménologie, sémantique, ontologie : Husserl et la tradition logique autrichienne, Paris, France, Presses universitaires de France.

Canguilhem Georges, 2009, « Le rôle de l’épistémologie dans l’historiographie scientifique contemporaine » dans Idéologie et rationalité dans l’histoire des sciences de la vie : nouvelles études d’histoire et de philosophie des sciences, Paris, J. Vrin, p. 11‑36.

Canguilhem Georges, 1975, « L’objet de l’histoire des sciences » dans Études d’histoire et de philosophie des sciences, Paris, J. Vrin, p. 9‑23.

Canguilhem Georges, 1955, « La formation du concept de réflexe aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles ».

Cavaillès Jean, 1947, Sur la logique et la théorie de la science, Paris, Presses universitaires de France.

Duhem Pierre, 2016, La théorie physique. Son objet, sa structure, Lyon, ENS Éditions (coll. « Bibliothèque idéale des sciences sociales »).

Fauvel Aude, Coffin Jean-Christophe et Trochu Thibaud, 2019, « Les carrières de femmes dans les sciences humaines et sociales (xixe-xxe siècles) : une histoire invisible ? », Revue d’histoire des sciences humaines15 décembre 2019, no 35, p. 11‑24.

Foucault Michel, 2008, L’archéologie du savoir, Paris, Gallimard (coll. « Tel »).

Foucault Michel, 1994, « Dits et Écrits n°219, Introduction à la traduction anglaise du Normal et du pathologique de Georges Canguilhem, trad. ang. par Carolyn R. Fawcett et Robert S. Cohen, Boston, D. Reidel, 1978 » dans Dits et écrits, III, Paris, Gallimard, p. 429 sq.

Gayon Jean, 2016, « L’institut d’histoire des sciences », Cahiers Gaston Bachelard, Cahier N° 14, <halshs-01286480>.

Grimoult Cédric, 2003, Histoire de l’histoire des sciences : historiographie de l’évolutionnisme dans le monde francophone, Genève, Librairie Droz.

Husserl Edmund, 1957, Logique formelle et logique transcendantale : essai d’une critique de la raison logique, traduit par Suzanne Bachelard, Paris, France, Presses universitaires de France.

Koyré Alexandre, 1966, Études d’histoire de la pensée scientifique, Paris, Presses universitaires de France.

Lacroix Jean, 1958, « Logique et Phénoménologie », Le Monde, 25 janv. 1958.

Mosconi Jean, 2007, « Éloge de Suzanne Bachelard »,

Pariente Jean-Claude, 2007, Retour à Bar-sur-Aube , 6 décembre 2007.

Perru Olivier, 2004, « Le modèle, le vivant et la complexité », Revue des questions scientifiques1 avril 2004, vol. 175, p. 113‑132.

Piatier J., 1957, « Quand les femmes se mêlent de logique… », Le Monde, 1 juill. 1957 p.

Russo F., 1959, « Recension de La conscience de la rationalité. Etude phénoménologique sur la physique mathématique », Archives de Philosophie, 1959, vol. 22, no 2, p. 312‑314.

Serres Michel, 1967, « Les anamnèses mathématiques », Archives internationales d’histoire des sciences, 1967, no 78‑79.

Varenne Franck, 2014, « Épistémologie des modèles et des simulations : tour d’horizon et tendances » dans Les modèles, possibilités et limites, Paris, Éditions Matériologiques (coll. « Modélisations, simulations, systèmes complexes »), p. 13‑46.

Vissio Gabriele, 2019, « Jean Cavaillès, de la logique de Husserl à la dialectique du concept » dans Jean-François Braunstein, Matteo Vagelli et Iván Moya Diez (eds.), L’épistémologie historique : Histoire et méthodes, Paris, Éditions de la Sorbonne (coll. « Philosophie »), p. 59‑71.

Annonce parution : Ian Hacking. Anthropologie et raison scientifique


Ian Hacking 

Anthropologie philosophique et raison scientifique

Textes réunis par M. Vagelli et traduits par A. Bandini, V. Guillin, M. Kirsch, L. Quéré et M. Vagelli.

Présentation de l’ouvrage:

Des calculs de probabilité aux troubles de la personnalité, des électrons à la maltraitance des enfants, de la logique de l’induction aux fous voyageurs, l’éventail des objets abordés par Ian Hacking peut sembler déroutant. Cependant, dans toutes ses recherches, à l’intersection de la philosophie et de l’histoire des sciences, il s’attache à examiner, en toutes leurs nuances et variétés, le rôle joué par l’expérimentation dans les sciences de la nature et la spécificité des « espèces humaines » comme objets des sciences humaines et sociales. Les textes réunis dans ce volume – dont certains publiés pour la première fois ici en français – montrent que les différents aspects de la production philosophique de Ian Hacking s’entre-répondent et dessinent ensemble un portrait complexe et articulé de la raison scientifique. Son approche originale, au croisement (entre autres) de l’analyse conceptuelle, de la philosophie du langage ordinaire, de l’archéologie foucaldienne et de l’histoire des sciences, a contribué à ouvrir de nouveaux chantiers de réflexion, faisant de Ian Hacking l’une des figures les plus dynamiques et influentes non seulement dans le domaine de l’épistémologie philosophique, mais aussi en sociologie, en anthropologie et en histoire.

Table des matières:

Prolégomènes à une anthropologie philosophique, par Matteo VAGELLI

Philosophie et histoire

Leçon inaugurale
« Style » pour historiens et philosophes
L’ontologie historique

Philosophie du laboratoire et technosciences

Est-ce que l’on voit à travers un microscope ?
La philosophie de l’expérience : illustrations de l’ultra-froid
L’importance de la classification chez le dernier Kuhn

Statistique, effets de boucle et sciences humaines

La statistique du suicide au XIXe siècle
Façonner les gens : le seuil de pauvreté
La maltraitance des enfants, entre fabrication et façonnement
Façonner les gens


Ian Hacking. Le philosophe du présent

Origine des textes

Index des noms

Index des notions

Vrin, « Philosophie du présent », 2023, 386 p., 978-2-7116-3029-5, 24 €

Publication: Luca Sciortino (2023) History of Rationalities. Ways of Thinking from Vico to Hacking and Beyond

A new book from a member of our research network has been published:

Sciortino, Luca (2023). History of Rationalities. Ways of Thinking from Vico to Hacking and Beyond, Palgrave Macmillan., Number of Pages XXIII, 337

About the book: Over time, philosophers and historians of science have introduced different notions of ‘ways of thinking’. This book presents, compares, and contrasts these different notions. It focuses primarily on Ian Hacking’s idea of ‘style of reasoning’ in order to assess and develop it into a more systematic theory of scientific thought, arguing that Hacking’s theory implies epistemic relativism. Luca Sciortino also discusses the implications of Hacking’s ideas for the study of the problem of contingency and inevitability in the development of scientific knowledge.

The author: Luca Sciortino teaches history and philosophy of science at eCampus University ( and at Unitreedu Milan. His research focuses primarily on historical epistemology.

Table of contents (9 chapters)

  • A Brief History of the Concept of ‘Ways of Thinking’: Introduction and Plan of Work
  • Notions of the Concept of ‘Ways of Thinking’: From Classical Historical Epistemology to Kuhn
  • Notions of the Concept of ‘Ways of Thinking’: From Hacking to Daston and Galison
  • Taxonomy of the Notions of ‘Ways of Thinking’
  • Developing the ‘Styles Project’: Towards a ‘Theory of Styles of Reasoning’
  • Styles of Reasoning and Relativism
  • The Incommensurability of Styles of Reasoning: The Case of the Existence of Theoretical Entities
  • Styles of Reasoning, Contingency and the Evolution of Science
  • Epilogue

More about:

8es Journées d’étude sur l’épistémologie historique: Les sciences de l’environnement (Dijon, 8-9 mai 2023)

8es journées d’étude sur l’épistémologie historique

Les sciences de l’environnement

8-9 juin 2023
Amphithéâtre de la MSH Dijon, 6 esplanade Érasme

Caroline Angleraux (INSERM / IHPST), Lucie Fabry (Université de Bourgogne, LIR3S), Iván Moya-Diez (Universidad Alberto Hurtado), Matteo Vagelli (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia). 

Avec le financement de Université de Bourgogne, LIR3S (UMR 7366), Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, IHPST (UMR 8590).

Contact :

Les journées d’études peuvent également être suivies en ligne sur Teams en cliquant ici


8 JUIN 2023

9h. Accueil des participants

Session 1 (prés. Lucie Fabry)

9h15. Julien Vincent, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
La « terre » de l’économie politique : une genèse

10h. Victor Béguin, ENS de Lyon.
La chose sans le mot ? La formation d’un programme de recherche écologique à l’interface entre sciences sociales et sciences naturelles dans les cahiers sur l’agriculture de Marx

11h. Wolf Feuerhahn, CNRS, Centre Alexandre Koyré.
Milieu, Umwelt, environment : comment historiciser des catégories contemporaines ?

Session 2 (prés. Matteo Vagelli)

14h. Florian Moullard, Université Bordeaux-Montaigne.
L’écologie politique de Jakob von Uexküll : épistémologie et politique de l’Umwelt

14h45. Victor Lefèvre, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
Une archéologie de l’écologie des écosystèmes

15h30. Judith Bastie, Université Paris-Cité.
Le végétal dans l’épistémologie historique française : pourquoi les Plant studies reliraient-elles Foucault, Canguilhem, Dagognet et leurs élèves ?

Session 3 (prés. Marco Dal Pozzolo)

16h30. Andrea Angelini, Université Paris 8.
Normativités biogéographiques. L’écologie de Canguilhem et l’écologie par Canguilhem

17h15. Iván Moya Diez, Université Alberto Hurtado.
Dérégulations de l’organisme et dérèglements du milieu chez Canguilhem

9 JUIN 2023

9h30. Accueil des participants

Session 4 (prés. Iván Moya Diez)

9h45. Maria Helena Soares, Université de l’État de Rio de Janeiro.
Le développement historique du concept de nature dans l’épistémologie historique de Lorraine Daston

10h30. Caroline Angleraux, INSERM.
Haeckel a-t-il fondé l’écologie ?

11h15. Frédéric Fruteau de Laclos, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
Bruno Latour, la trajectoire d’une pensée

Session 5 (prés. Caroline Angleraux)

14h. Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
Michel Serres, une vision très personnelle de l’Anthropocène

15h. Massimiliano Simons, Université de Maastricht.
From Information Theory to Ecology: Michel Serres and Bruno Latour

Session 6 (prés. Vincent Chambarlhac)

16h. Émilie Rouilly, Archives municipales de Beaune.
Présentation du fonds Bruno Latour

16h30. Table ronde autour du fonds Bruno Latour et de sa valorisation.
Avec Françoise Banat-Berger (service interministériel des archives de France), Édouard Bouyé (archives départementales de la Côte d’Or), Vincent Chambarlhac (Université de Bourgogne, LIR3S), Lucie Fabry (Université de Bourgogne, LIR3S) et Émilie Rouilly (archives municipales de Beaune)

AAC – CFP Journées 2023

[English below]

8e journées d’étude sur l’épistémologie historique

L’épistémologie historique des sciences de l’environnement

Université de Bourgogne, 8 et 9 juin 2023, Amphithéâtre de la MSH de Dijon

Nous vous invitons à transmettre vos propositions d’ici le lundi 20 mars en remplissant le formulaire suivant :

Les propositions de communications (500 mots) peuvent être rédigées en français ou en anglais, qui seront les deux langues des journées d’étude. Si vous n’êtes pas en mesure de venir à Dijon pour participer à la conférence, des propositions de communication à distance peuvent être envisagées.

Organisation : Caroline Angleraux (IHPST), Lucie Fabry (uB), Ivan Moya Diez (U. Alberto Hurtado), Matteo Vagelli (U. Ca’Foscari). Contact :

Présentation du réseau de recherche

Ces journées d’étude constituent la 8e édition des journées annuelles du Réseau de recherche international sur l’histoire et les méthodes de l’épistémologie historique. Ce réseau fondé en 2015 réunit aujourd’hui 80 membres de différents pays, dont les travaux sont liés à l’épistémologie historique prise en un sens large. Il accueille ainsi des spécialistes de l’épistémologie française du xxe siècle aussi bien que des personnes qui ont contribué au renouveau de l’épistémologie historique sous l’impulsion de membres de l’Institut Max Planck en histoire des sciences. L’objectif des activités de ce réseau est moins de chercher à délimiter le pré carré de l’épistémologie historique en la distinguant radicalement d’autres études des sciences, que de créer un espace de dialogue pour différentes interrogations philosophiques sur l’histoire des savoirs qui ont pour point commun de porter une attention particulière aux conditions d’émergence des disciplines scientifiques et de leurs objets.

Chaque édition des Journées est centrée sur un thème spécifique. L’édition de 2023 succèdera ainsi à celle que nous avons consacrée à la relation entre les arts et les sciences, « Arts and Sciences, Historicizing Boundaries » (2022), qui a eu lieu à l’Université Ca’ Foscari de Venise. Les éditions des années antérieures, qui ont eu lieu à l’Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, portaient quant à elle sur les thèmes suivants : « Épistémologie historique et épistémologie de l’histoire » (2020), « La philosophie des sciences du vivant : biologie et médecine au prisme de l’épistémologie historique » (2019), « L’épistémologie historique et les désunités des sciences » (2018), « Pour une épistémologie historique des transformations techniques » (2017), « Une histoire du présent » (2016) ; « Épistémologie historique : commencements et enjeux actuels » (2015)[1].

Le thème de l’édition 2023 : l’épistémologie historique des sciences de l’environnement

Cet appel à contributions est ouvert à toutes et à tous, y compris et particulièrement aux personnes qui ne sont pas encore membres du réseau de recherche. Le thème de l’année 2023 sera l’épistémologie historique des sciences de l’environnement. Nous mettons en avant trois axes pour les réflexions, tout en accueillant avec intérêt les propositions qui ne s’inscrivent pas dans ces axes, si elles restent proches du thème de cette année.

Axe 1 : Place des sciences de l’environnement et de l’écologie dans les textes fondateurs de l’épistémologie historique

Le premier axe invite à se demander comment les sciences de l’environnement et les questions écologiques ont été appréhendées par les auteurs de l’épistémologie historique, ou comment ces auteurs pourraient être mobilisés dans l’étude de ces questions et de ces disciplines. On pourra ainsi étudier, par exemple, la conférence de Canguilhem « Qu’est-ce que l’écologie ? » (1974) et interroger la rupture ou la continuité qu’elle représente par rapport à ses travaux en histoire et philosophie de la biologie et de la médecine (Larrère 2011; Espinoza Lolas, Moya Diez, et Vilches Vilches 2018). Ces journées pourront également prolonger les travaux qui se sont demandés dans quelle mesure la conception foucaldienne de la biopolitique peut nourrir une réflexion écologique (Gesu 2022; Angelini 2021; Taylan 2013). On pourra encore interroger la place que les questions écologiques ont occupée dans l’œuvre de François Dagognet (Dagognet 1973; 1997; 2000; Bensaude Vincent, Braunstein, et Gayon 2019).

L’étude des travaux de ces auteurs et de leurs contemporains pourra notamment être structurée par les questions suivantes : les efforts pour penser les questions écologiques conduisent-ils à modifier la posture ou les thèses des épistémologues, la manière dont ils ou elles appréhendent la connaissance scientifique ? Peut-on identifier des impasses dans lesquelles les épistémologues se seraient trouvés lorsqu’ils ou elles ont souhaité se tourner vers l’étude de questions écologiques ? Et peut-on identifier, inversement, des ressources propres à l’épistémologie dans l’étude des questions écologiques ? Quel est l’apport de l’épistémologie historique dans l’étude du statut de scientificité de l’écologie? 

Axe 2 : Une archéologie des sciences de l’environnement

Le deuxième axe proposé pour ces journées d’étude consiste à se demander, en des termes foucaldiens, quelles ont été les conditions d’émergence d’une formation discursive qui prenne l’environnement comme objet, ce qu’on pourrait appeler une épistémè des sciences environnementales. L’écologie est absente des Mots et les choses (1966), ce qui est peut-être un indice du fait que c’est seulement à partir du début des années 1970 que les questions environnementales sont pleinement devenues des objets de discours politiques et scientifiques. Il semble cependant possible d’interroger, dans une discussion et un prolongement des Mots et les choses, les conditions de la formation d’une épistémè environnementale, en se demandant par exemple quelles sont les conditions d’émergence du concept d’environnement et en quoi son étude diffère, par exemple, de l’étude biologique ou de l’étude géographique des milieux (Feuerhahn 2009; 2022; Macherey 2016).

Il s’agirait ainsi d’étudier les reconfigurations de l’espace des savoirs qu’impliquent les questions écologiques, et de discerner les facteurs qui ont contribué à ces évolutions épistémiques, en interrogeant notamment les relations entre l’histoire des disciplines scientifiques, l’histoire du capitalisme et l’histoire de l’écologie politique. On pourra également demander si cette épistèmè des sciences environnementales est véritablement advenue, c’est-à-dire si nous disposons effectivement des outils qui nous permettent de prendre la mesure des dégradations environnementales d’origine anthropique et de trouver les moyens d’y remédier, ou si nos manières d’agir et de penser, notre organisation économique et sociale et nos formes de gouvernement entravent l’émergence d’une telle épistèmè qui semble pourtant requise par la situation actuelle.

Nous accueillerons avec intérêt les propositions qui développeront, dans cette perspective, une approche d’épistémologie comparative, en interrogeant les relations entre les différentes disciplines qui prennent l’environnement pour objet. On se demandera, en particulier, si les relations entre les sciences de la nature et les sciences humaines ont été modifiées par la volonté d’appréhender des phénomènes comme les dérèglements climatiques d’origine anthropique, et de quelle manière (Jollivet 2013). On se demandera ainsi dans quelle mesure la thèse selon laquelle la division entre nature et culture est dépassée ou doit être dépassée s’est effectivement traduite par des évolutions réelles des pratiques scientifiques, ou si la spécialisation des savoirs doit être considéré comme un obstacle dans l’élaboration de telles réflexions. On soulèvera la question de savoir si l’épistémologie historique peut contribuer à faciliter l’émergence d’études pluridisciplinaires de l’environnement.

Axe 3 : Bruno Latour en discussion

Une demi-journée de notre rencontre sera consacrée à Bruno Latour, décédé en octobre 2022. Le thème de ces journées nous conduira à mettre en avant deux questions dans l’étude de son œuvre. D’abord, celle des relations de Bruno Latour à l’épistémologie historique. Alors que Latour et Woolgar (1979) avaient mobilisé la notion bachelardienne de phénoménotechnique dans Laboratory Life, Latour a formulé à partir des années 1980 une critique de plus en plus sévère de l’épistémologie bachelardienne. En se présentant comme un des importateurs des méthodes de la Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, il voyait en ces dernières une manière de surmonter ce qui lui apparaissait comme des apories de l’histoire et la philosophie des sciences à la française, marquées par le rationalisme bachelardien (Bowker et Latour 1987). L’étude de ces thèses de Bruno Latour et de leur réception fournira ainsi l’occasion d’interroger les rapports entre l’épistémologie historique et la sociologie des sciences.

La deuxième question que nous mettrons au centre de cette étude de l’œuvre de Bruno Latour sera celle de sa contribution à l’étude des questions écologiques : on pourra par exemple interroger dans cette perspective la manière dont la théorie de l’acteur-réseau fournit de nouveaux outils pour appréhender les rapports des humains avec le non-humain (Akrich et al. 2006), ou la manière dont son anthropologie des modernes interroge les conditions d’émergence et les présupposés de la distinction entre nature et culture (Latour 1991). Mais on pourra également se tourner vers des textes qui sont plus directement consacrés à des questions d’écologie politique (Latour 1999), en formulant un appel à devenir pleinement terriens ou terrestres (Latour 2015; 2017; 2021; Aït-Touati et al. 2021).

Ces journées seront également l’occasion d’une présentation du fonds déposé par Bruno Latour aux archives municipales de Beaune, composé de plus de 12 000 documents qui couvrent l’ensemble de sa carrière et comprennent des pièces essentielles à la compréhension de son œuvre, comme les carnets de notes de ses enquêtes ethnographiques. L’archiviste en charge du fonds, Émilie Rouilly, viendra présenter celui-ci, et ces journées constitueront ainsi une occasion de faire émerger des projets de valorisation, en dialogue avec les membres du LIR3S (UMR 7366) et de la MSH de Dijon.

Photo  : Jakub Pabis sur Unsplash

8th workshop on historical epistemology

The historical epistemology of environmental sciences

University of Burgundy, June 8 and 9, 2023, Amphitheater of the MSH, Dijon

Submissions by March 20 on

Paper proposals (500 words) can be written in French or English, the two languages of the conference. If you are unable to come to Dijon to participate in the conference, you may submit a proposal for a virtual session delivered online.

Presentation of the research network

This Workshop is the 8th edition of the annual meeting of the International Research Network on the History and Methods of Historical Epistemology. This network, founded in 2015, currently brings together 80 members from different countries, whose work is related to historical epistemology in a broad sense. It thus welcomes specialists in French epistemology of the 20th century as well as people who have contributed to the renewal of historical epistemology under the impulse of members of the Max Planck Institute for the history of science. The objective of the activities of this network is not so much to separate historical epistemology radically from other studies of science, but rather to create a dialogue between different philosophical studies on the history of knowledge that pay particular attention to the conditions of emergence of scientific disciplines and their objects.

Each edition of the Workshop focuses on a specific theme. The previous edition was dedicated to the relationship between arts and sciences, “Arts and Sciences, Historicizing Boundaries” (2022) and took place at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice. The former ones, which took place at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, focused on the following themes: “Historical Epistemology and Epistemology of History” (2020), “The Philosophy of Life Sciences: biologie et médecine au prisme de l’épistémologie historique” (2019), “Historical epistemology and the disunity of science” (2018), “For an historical epistemology of technological transformations” (2017), “A history of the present” (2016); “Historical epistemology: beginnings and current issues” (2015)[2] .

The theme of the 2023 edition: the historical epistemology of environmental sciences

This call for papers is open to all, including and especially to people who are not yet members of the research network. The theme of the year 2023 will be the historical epistemology of environmental sciences. We put forward three axes for the study of this theme, while welcoming proposals that do not fit into these axes, provided that they dwell on the history and philosophy of ecology and environmental sciences.

Axis 1: The place of environmental sciences and ecology in the founding texts of historical epistemology

The first axis studies how the environmental sciences and ecological questions have been apprehended by the authors of historical epistemology, or how the works of these authors could be used in the study of these questions and these disciplines. For example, one might study Canguilhem’s lecture “What is Ecology?” (1974) and question the rupture or continuity that it represents in relation to his work in the history and philosophy of biology and medicine (Larrère 2011; Espinoza Lolas, Moya Diez, and Vilches Vilches 2018). One could also question the extent to which the Foucaultian conception of biopolitics can nourish ecological thinking (Gesu 2022; Angelini 2021; Taylan 2013), or the place that ecological questions have occupied in the work of François Dagognet (Dagognet 1973; 1997; 2000; Bensaude Vincent, Braunstein, and Gayon 2019).

The study of the work of these authors and their contemporaries could be structured by the following questions: do efforts to think about ecological issues lead epistemologists to change their methods or of the way they apprehend scientific knowledge? Can we identify dead ends in which epistemologists have found themselves when they wanted to turn to the study of ecological issues? And can we identify, conversely, resources specific to epistemology in the study of ecological issues?

Axis 2: An archaeology of environmental sciences

The second axis proposed for this workshop consists in asking, in Foucaultian terms, what were the conditions for the emergence of a discursive formation that takes the environment as an object – something that we could call an episteme of environmental sciences. Ecology is absent from The Order of Things (1966), which is perhaps an indication of the fact that it is only from the beginning of the 1970s that environmental issues fully became objects of political and scientific discourse. However, it seems possible to question, in a discussion and extension of The Order of Things, the conditions of the formation of an environmental episteme, by asking, for example, what are the conditions of the emergence of the concept of environment and in what way its study differs, for example, from the biological study or the geographical study of milieux (Feuerhahn 2009; 2022; Macherey 2016).

This axis would study the reconfigurations of knowledge implied by ecological questions, and discern the factors that have contributed to these epistemic evolutions, by questioning in particular the relations between the history of scientific disciplines, the history of capitalism and the history of political ecology. We may also ask whether this episteme of environmental sciences already exists, that is to say whether we actually have the tools that allow us to take the measure of anthropogenic environmental degradation and to find the means to remedy it, or whether our ways of acting and thinking, our economic and social organization, and our forms of government hinder the emergence of such an episteme.

In that respect, this axis particularly welcomes proposals which develop an approach of comparative epistemology, by questioning the relations between the various disciplines that take the environment as their object. One could ask whether the relations between the natural sciences and the humanities have been modified by the desire to understand phenomena such as anthropogenic climate change, and in what way (Jollivet 2013). One could also wonder to what extent the thesis that the division between nature and culture has been overcome or must be overcome has actually led to real changes in scientific practices, or whether the specialization of knowledge should be considered as an obstacle in the development of such reflections. The question could be raised as to whether an “archaeological approach” can contribute to the emergence of multidisciplinary studies of the environment.

Axis 3: Bruno Latour in discussion

Half a day of our meeting will be devoted to Bruno Latour, who passed away in October 2022. The theme of the workshop will lead us to put forward two questions in the study of his work. First, the relationship of Bruno Latour to historical epistemology. While Latour and Woolgar (1979) had used the Bachelardian notion of phenomenotechnique in Laboratory Life, Latour formulated from the 1980s onwards a severe critique of Bachelardian epistemology. By presenting himself as among those who introduced the methods of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge in France, he presented this latter as a way of overcoming what appeared to him to be the aporias of French history and philosophy of science, marked by Bachelardian rationalism (Bowker and Latour 1987). The study of these theses of Bruno Latour and their reception will provide the opportunity to question the relationship between historical epistemology and the sociology of science.

The second question that we will put at the center of this study of Bruno Latour’s work will be that of his contribution to the study of ecological questions: one could study, for instance, the way in which the actor-network theory provides new tools for apprehending the relations between humans and non-humans (Akrich et al. 2006) or the way in which his anthropology of the Moderns questions the conditions of emergence of the distinction between nature and culture (Latour 1991). But one can also turn to texts that are more directly devoted to questions of political ecology (Latour 1999), where Bruno Latour enjoined humans to become fully terrestrial (Latour 2015; 2017; 2021; Aït-Touati et al. 2021).

This year’s gathering will also be the occasion for a presentation of the fonds deposited by Bruno Latour at the Beaune municipal archives, composed of more than 12,000 documents that cover his entire career and include pieces that are essential to the understanding of his work, such as the notebooks of his ethnographic investigations. The archivist in charge of the collection, Émilie Rouilly, will present the funds, and the workshop will provide an opportunity to develop research projects on this archival material, in dialogue with the members of the LIR3S laboratory and the MSH of Dijon.

Liste des œuvres citées / References

Aït-Touati, Frédérique, Emanuele Coccia, Sébastien Dutreuil, John Tresch, Baptiste Morizot, Nastassja Martin, Vinciane Despret, Stéphane Van Damme, Déborah Bucchi, et Patrice Maniglier. 2021. Le cri de Gaïa : penser la terre avec Bruno Latour. Paris, France: les Empêcheurs de penser en rond – Éditions la Découverte.

Akrich, Madeleine, Michel Callon, Bruno Latour, et Centre de sociologie de l’innovation. 2006. Sociologie de la traduction : textes fondateurs. Paris, France: Mines Paris, les Presses.

Angelini, Andrea. 2021. Biopolitica ed ecologia : l’epistemologia politica del discorso biologico tra Michel Foucault e Georges Canguilhem. Firenze University Press.

Bensaude Vincent, Bernadette, Jean-François Braunstein, et Jean Gayon. 2019. François Dagognet : philosophe, épistémologue. Sciences & philosophie. Paris: Éditions Matériologiques.–9782373611946-page-255.htm.

Bowker, Geof, et Bruno Latour. 1987. « A Booming Discipline Short of Discipline: (Social) Studies of Science in France ». Social Studies of Science 17 (4): 715‑48.

Canguilhem, Georges. 1974. « La question de l’écologie. La technique ou la vie ». Dialogue, mars, 37‑44.

Dagognet, François. 1973. Des révolutions vertes : histoire et principes de l’agronomie. Paris, France: Hermann.

———. 1997. Des détritus, des déchets, de l’abject :  une philosophie écologique. Les empêcheurs de penser en rond. Le Plessis-Robinson: Institut Synthélabo.

———. 2000. Considérations sur l’idée de nature. 2e éd. rev. et augm. Pour demain. Paris: J. Vrin.

Espinoza Lolas, Ricardo, Iván Moya Diez, et Daniel Vilches Vilches. 2018. « On Technology And Life: Fundamental Concepts Of Georges Caguilhem And Xavier Zubiri’s Thought ». Ideas y Valores 67 (167): 127‑47.

Feuerhahn, Wolf. 2009. « From environment to Umwelt: The stakes of a change in terminology ». Revue philosophique de la France et de l’étranger 134 (4): 419‑38.

———. 2022. « Les catégories de l’entendement écologique : milieu, Umwelt, environment, nature… ». In Humanités environnementales : Enquêtes et contre-enquêtes, édité par Guillaume Blanc et Élise Demeulenaere, 19‑41. Homme et société. Paris: Éditions de la Sorbonne.

Gesu, Andrea Di. 2022. « Foucault entre Wuhan et l’Anthropocène ». Terrestres (blog). 12 juillet 2022.

Jollivet, Marcel. 2013. Sciences de la nature, sciences de la société : les passeurs de frontières. Hors collection. Paris: CNRS Éditions.

Larrère, Catherine. 2011. « La question de l’écologie. Ou la querelle des naturalismes ». Cahiers philosophiques 127 (4): 63‑79.

Latour, Bruno. 1991. Nous n’avons jamais été modernes : essai d’anthropologie symétrique. Paris, France: La Découverte, 1991.

———. 1999. Politiques de la nature : comment faire entrer les sciences en démocratie. Paris: Éditions la Découverte.

———. 2015. Face à Gaïa : huit conférences sur le nouveau régime climatique. Paris, France: La Découverte.

———. 2017. Où atterrir ? Comment s’orienter en politique. Paris, France: la Découverte.

———. 2021. Où suis-je ? Leçons du confinement à l’usage des terrestres. Paris, France: Editions la Découverte.

Latour, Bruno, et Steve Woolgar. 1979. Laboratory Life: the Construction of Scientific Facts. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.

Macherey, Pierre. 2016. « Canguilhem et l’idée de milieu ». Billet. La philosophie au sens large (blog). 2016.

Taylan, Ferhat. 2013. « L’interventionnisme environnemental, une stratégie néolibérale ». Raisons politiques 52 (4): 77‑87.

Avec le soutien de / with the support of :

IHPST (UMR 8590)
LIR3S (UMR 7366)
Universidad Alberto Hurtado
Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia
European Commission
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101030646, “EPISTYLE”

[1] On trouvera les programmes et argumentaires des éditions précédentes sur

[2] The programs and arguments of the previous editions can be found at

3ème mois de l’épistémologie historique – Novembre 2022

3rd Month of historical epistemology

November 9, 16, 24 & 30, 2022, 5pm-7pm (GMT+1)

Online workshop on Zoom :épistémologie-historique-novembre-2022.png

Organizing Committee

Caroline Angleraux
Lucie Fabry
Ivan Moya Diez
Matteo Vagelli

Épistémologie Historique. Research Network
on the History and the Methods of Historical Epistemology

avec le soutien de 

IHPST (UMR 8590, Paris 1/CNRS)
LIR3S (UMR 7366, Université de Bourgogne / CNRS)
Universidad Alberto Hurtado
Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia
European Commission
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101030646, “EPISTYLE”

Further information:


NOVEMBER 9, 2002; 5pm-7pm (GMT +1) 

Massimiliano Badino (U. Verona), Gerardo Ienna (U. Verona), Pietro Daniel Omodeo (U. Ca’ Foscari) 

Presentation of Epistemologia storica. Correnti, temi, problemi (Carocci 2022)

Massimiliano Simons (Maastricht U.) 

From the Vienna Circle to Dialectica: Rougier, Cavaillès, Gonseth


NOVEMBER 16, 2002; 5pm-7pm (GMT +1)

Annagiulia Canesso (U. Padova)

Georges Canguilhem et la sociologie durkheimienne : normal et pathologique, entre vital et social

Maria Teresa Costa (MPIWG) 

Spaces of Visual Epistemology


NOVEMBER 24; 5pm-7pm (GMT +1)

Elisabetta Basso (U. Pavia) 

Presentation of Young Foucault: The Lille Manuscripts on Psychopathology, Phenomenology, and Anthropology, 1952–1955

Caroline Angleraux (IHPST) & Perceval Pillon (Paris 1)

At the margin of current science: characterising the desuetude of scientific objects


NOVEMBER 30; 5pm-7pm (GMT +1)

Pietro Terzi (U. Paris Nanterre) 

Léon Brunschvicg: An Unwitting Father of Historical Epistemology

Judith Bastie (U. Paris Cité) 

Mise en abyme : faire l’épistémologie du végétal dans l’épistémologie historique de Canguilhem, Foucault et Dagognet







Judith Bastie – Mise en abyme: faire l’épistémologie du végétal dans l’épistémologie historique de Canguilhem, Foucault et Dagognet


Mon travail de thèse consiste en une archéologie du végétal. Il s’agit de dégager, dans la pensée occidentale du végétal, des épistémè ; de donner à voir des moments qui font rupture dans les discours de savoirs sur plantes. Là où la philosophie, et les sciences en général, se sont largement consacrées à l’humanité et son animalité, il y a comme un grand vide sur les questions de végétalité. Ces questions reviennent précisément en force aujourd’hui, associées à nos préoccupations environnementales, à l’écologie politique ou à l’urgence de limiter les effets du réchauffement climatique. Il s’agit de s’en saisir, en décalant un peu le regard : non pas l’environnement, catégorie somme tout très récente, mais les plantes. Non pas les philosophies de l’environnement, mais l’épistémologie historique. Ce travail de recherche, largement fondé sur l’archive, est néanmoins orienté vers le moment contemporain et entend s’actualiser, fidèle à l’archéologie foucaldienne. Il implique notamment une pratique de terrain, au sein d’un laboratoire du biologie végétale au Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle. Il s’engage aussi dans le renouvellement de ces épistémologies en y intégrant la question du genre, s’accrochant aux études américaines dites Gender and plant studies, visant à les intégrer au champ universitaire français.

Tout cela cependant, ce ne sera pas l’objet de ma communication. Il s’agit d’une présentation un peu générale de mon travail de thèse, le décor en fait. Je voudrais resserrer ici mon propos sur un morceau, et peut-être le plus conséquent, de ma thèse. Il s’agit d’un pari méthodologique, d’une mise en abyme : faire l’épistémologie du végétal dans l’épistémologie historique de Canguilhem, Foucault et Dagognet. Outre mon inscription dans cette école d’épistémologie historique française des années 1970, du point de vue du geste je veux dire, j’entends aller plus loin et en faire le terrain-même de mes recherches. Il ne s’agira pas seulement pour ces auteurs d’inspirer mes travaux sur les plantes, de constituer un socle théorique, mais davantage : d’être le terrain d’une archéologie du végétal. Fouiller à l’intérieur même de l’épistémologie historique, pour y trouver quelque chose des plantes. Si ce parti pris méthodologique doit présenter un intérêt, ça ne peut être seulement de restreindre un corpus, de proposer déjà un repérage dans toute l’histoire naturelle et la biologie de ce qui a été dit des plantes ; l’intérêt réside aussi dans ce que l’entrée « végétal » peut dire de l’épistémologie historique, et en elle, de la connaissance de la vie, voire de la vie-même. Canguilhem, Foucault et Dagognet ont tous en commun de s’être intéressés aux plantes. C’est resté subsidiaire en leurs œuvres, et pourtant, s’il fallait tirer un fil entre eux, ce pourrait être celui-ci : la place des plantes dans la connaissance de la vie. L’objet de ma communication est donc le suivant : discuter ce parti pris méthodologique, en dessiner les limites et en définir les modalités pratiques.


Annagiulia Canesso (U. Padova) – Georges Canguilhem et la sociologie durkheimienne : normal et pathologique entre vital et social

Les études consacrées à la pensée de Georges Canguilhem forment un chantier d’une grande actualité, qui s’inscrit non seulement dans le cadre de la redécouverte récente de son influence théorique sur toute une génération de penseurs en France dans la seconde moitié du XXe siècle, mais aussi dans l’appréciation de la portée pleinement philosophique de son apport épistémologique. Mes recherches actuelles, que je souhaiterais partager dans le cadre du précieux espace de discussion offert par le 3rd Month of Historical Epistemology, s’inscrivent dans ce contexte complexe et stratifié d’études canguilhemiennes, mais en l’articulant dans une direction plus nettement philosophico-politique. En général, je propose à cet égard de mener une enquête systématique sur le rapport entre Canguilhem et la tradition sociologique française, en partant du projet fondateur de Comte, et en passant par la sociologie de Durkheim, mais aussi de Mauss, Halbwachs et Friedmann. En effet, l’hypothèse de recherche que je voudrais proposer à l’occasion du débat parmi les membres du groupe EpistHist, est que l’œuvre de Canguilhem se constitue non seulement au sein de l’école composite de l’épistémologie française, mais aussi dans la tradition de la pensée sociologique en France, en héritant de sa conceptualité fondamentale, mais, en même temps, en la retravaillant profondément et de manière originale. Le résultat attendu de la recherche ainsi menée constituerait donc un double vecteur de problématisation. D’une part, de la position et de la contribution spécifiques que revêt Canguilhem au sein de la tradition sociologique française. D’autre part, de la torsion et de la remise en question spécifiques de la conceptualité propre aux sciences sociales qui découlent de ce même positionnement interne problématique. Je souhaiterais donc me concentrer plus particulièrement sur les notions spécifiques de « normal » et de « pathologique », dans la mesure où ces concepts sont constitués précisément au sein du discours sociologique, notamment à partir du cadre théorique comtien. De même, Durkheim – sur lequel je me propose d’insister au cours de mon exposé – articule la distinction entre faits sociaux normaux et pathologiques à partir de l’adoption du « principe de Broussais », qui devient essentiel au fondement même de la sociologie en tant que science, libérée de tout élément subjectiviste (voir É. Durkheim, Les règles de la méthode sociologique, 1895). Le normal et le pathologique deviennent donc délimitables, tant pour l’organisme vivant que pour la société, grâce à l’analyse statistique qui identifie l’état normal et la description du type moyen. Le but de ma présentation est de montrer comment, dans son célèbre travail sur le normal et le pathologique, Canguilhem a hérité de cette même conceptualité, tout en la soumettant à une torsion fondamentale.

Le moyen essentiel qui me permettra de soutenir ma proposition est l’analyse d’un texte inédit, conservé au CAPHÉS de l’ENS, qui réunit une série de conférences d’un cours pour l’agrégation de philosophie que Canguilhem donne en 1947, alors qu’il est maître de conférences à l’Université de Strasbourg. Le sujet des leçons est en effet un texte crucial de Durkheim, Les règles de la méthode sociologique (1895), ce qui fait de ce cours l’un des très rares endroits – le seul, par la longueur de la discussion et le caractère explicite de la référence – où Canguilhem se mesure ouvertement au discours sociologique durkheimien. Je me concentrerai notamment sur l’analyse critique que propose Canguilhem du chapitre consacré aux Règles sur la distinction entre le normal et le pathologique. L’examen de ces exposés fournira donc l’occasion de s’attarder sur les concepts de « normal » et de « pathologique », dans la mesure où ils sont utilisés non seulement dans le cadre de l’analyse philosophique du vivant, mais aussi de la dimension proprement sociale, et – parallèlement et globalement – de l’interrogation sur les rapports entre le vital et le social (et donc, encore, du savoir sociologique et du savoir biologique). Une telle perspective me permettra de montrer comment la position particulière de Canguilhem à l’égard du discours sociologique et de sa conceptualité spécifique est capable d’opérer une interrogation épistémologique des concepts du « social », en réarticulant différemment le plan de la sociologie et la définition de son objet propre.


Maria Teresa Costa – Spaces of Visual Epistemology

The history of art and the history of science have increasingly converged over the last decades creating a methodological affinity that is markedly evident in both the expansion of art history into a history of images (Bildwissenschaft and visual studies) and the growing interest of historians of science in visual sources and material artefacts. Putting into dialogue both disciplinary histories and related methodologies, the paper aims to unfold a new perspective through the analysis of spaces of visual epistemology, that is, of spaces in which knowledge arises through images in a broader sense, spaces such as laboratories, studios, museums, and exhibitions. Analyzing their interconnections, overlaps, and collisions beyond disciplinary boundaries, the paper aims to reflect on both the potential of thinking with images and on the epistemic significance of experimentation and process: as hybrids of materiality and imagination, these are all workshops of visual knowledge. Following their history and their architectural evolution, such places cannot be defined conclusively since their topography reflects transitions and paradigm shifts within art, science, and technology. This makes a deep analysis of both the network of agents and the institutions mediating these cultural exchanges necessary in order to also consider the objects themselves as being inseparable from the history of their media of transmission. Media and displays will therefore not simply be analyzed as tools for seeing, but as epistemic mechanisms that are essential for the transfer of knowledge and the widening of the disciplinary discourse of both art history and the history of science. An interesting example is in this sense the shift introduced by digital technologies (as infographic) in visualization processes, which has enhanced the epistemic potentialities of diagrams, models, and simulation strategies both in art and science.


Elisabetta Basso (Pavia) – Presentation of Young Foucault: The Lille Manuscripts on Psychopathology, Phenomenology, and Anthropology, 1952–1955

In the 1950s, long before his ascent to international renown, Michel Foucault published a scant few works. His early writings on psychology, psychopathology, and anthropology have been dismissed as immature. However, recently discovered manuscripts from the mid-1950s, when Foucault was a lecturer at the University of Lille, testify to the significance of the work that the philosopher produced in the years leading up to the “archaeological” project he launched with History of Madness. In my presentation, I will draw an analysis of the general epistemological “style” and methodology of Foucault’s philosophical project at the moment of its inception. It blurs the boundaries between biography and theoretical research in order to retrace the transformations, the difficulties and sometimes the contradictions that characterize the intellectual trajectory of a philosopher who, as Foucault himself put it, “turned to psychology, and from psychology to history.”


Massimiliano Simons (Maastricht) – From the Vienna Circle to Dialectica: Rougier, Cavaillès, Gonseth

Historical epistemology has a standard history of itself, tracing its roots back to Gaston Bachelard (or further back in time). It is typically read as an alternative way of doing philosophy and history of science, in contrast to Anglo-American approaches or logical positivism. In this article, I want to unearth some forgotten parts of the 20 th -century history of philosophy of science in France. First of all, I want to delve into the initial confrontation between French philosophy and logical positivism in the 1930s. Crucial figure in this confrontation was Louis Rougier, a now mostly forgotten figure, who played a crucial role in the reception of logical positivism in France, and Jean Cavaillès and Ferdinand Gonseth, who were among the first to respond to logical positivism, but whose role in the history of

historical epistemology remains unclear. This talk wants to explore three things. First, I want to argue that the alignment between Rougier and the Vienna Circle was political. Secondly, I want to explore how this confrontation with logical positivism provoked for some, but not all, French philosophers of science questions about their own national identity. Finally, I want to contest that this naturally led to ‘historical epistemology’ as we now know it. Instead I want to point at an alternative that was developing itself in France. In 1938, Gonseth gathered philosophers of science and logicians in Amersfoort to formulate an alternative to logical positivism. Both Bachelard and Cavaillès, among others, were present. Here they were looking for a common ground that could form the basis of a ‘French response’ to the Vienna Circle. However, this initiative was cut short due to the Second World War. Cavaillès died in the war, and logical positivists moved their attention to the United States. However, Gonseth continued his work in Zurich, organizing new conferences and launching the journal Dialectica with Bachelard and Paul Bernays. This alternative ‘Swiss’ way of doing historical epistemology, however, never became part of the French identity of historical epistemology, which rather shifted its focus on the legacy of Cavaillès and its responses to another upcoming philosophy: phenomenology.


Pietro Terzi. Léon Brunschvicg: An Unwitting Father of Historical Epistemology

Léon Brunschvicg (1869-1944) is often considered one of the noble fathers of historical epistemology in France. Indeed, his “scientific philosophy” was based on the close union between the evolution of philosophy and the advancement of science, reinterpreted from a historical and reflective perspective. However, Brunschvicg’s aim was not to determine the historical conditions of scientific knowledge, but to draw from the philosophical implications immanent to the evolution of science (most notably, mathematics and physics) diriment conclusions about the nature of mind and knowledge and the progress of civilization. His was in fact a “critical idealism” that saw through history the affirmation of a dynamic and law-making rationality over all forms of realist ontology, of concept as of perception. We shall see how, in Brunschvicg’s thought, elements drawn from the history of philosophy (Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, Fichte), spiritualism (Lachelier, Boutroux), ethnology and psychology (Lévy-Bruhl, Piaget), and French epistemology (Cournot, Comte, Poincaré) coalesce together.


Styles in the Arts and in the Sciences (online seminar)

Fall 2022-Winter 2023 – Online Seminar

Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia – Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage

European Commission – This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101030646, “EPISTYLE”

Organizer: Matteo Vagelli (Ca’ Foscari/Harvard)

Link zoom:

Further information:



OCTOBER 17, 2022

17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

Isabelle Kalinowski, ENS Paris

Gottfried Semper: Style and the Thickness of Time


OCTOBER 24, 2022

17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

Rémi Mermet, ENS Paris

Beyond Formalism: Heinrich Wölfflin’s Concept of Style


OCTOBER 31, 2022

17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

Andrea Pinotti, Università degli Studi di Milano

Style in Art and Style in perception: a Problematic Correlation


JANUARY 24, 2023

17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

Frédéric Fruteau de Laclos, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Existentialisme de la connaissance et stylistique de l’idéation


FEBRUARY 6, 2023

17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

Mari Hvattum, Oslo School of Architecture and Design

Style and Solitude. The History of an Architectural Problem


FEBRUARY 13, 2023

17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

Eva Geulen, ZfL Berlin

Why Style Now?

Matteo Vagelli, PhD

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice/Harvard University)

Arts and Sciences, Historicizing Boundaries. 7th International Workshop on Historical Epistemology (Ca’ Foscari, 9-10 June)

Arts and Sciences, Historicizing Boundaries
7th International Workshop on Historical Epistemology

Thursday 9- Friday 10 June

Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia (Aula Baratto – Dorsoduro 3246 – 30123 VE – Second floor)


Registration is mandatory


Further information:

Thursday JUNE 9, 2022

10:30 Welcome & Introduction Marco Sgarbi, Ca’ Foscari

Chair Roberta Dreon, Ca’ Foscari

Polemics and epistemes: symbiontics in contemporary bio-arts

Chair Eleonora Montuschi, Ca’ Foscari

14:00 Francesco Nappo, Politecnico di Milano
How Maxwell discovered the Maxwell equations

14:40 Stefano Furlan, MPIWG Berlin/Université de Genève
The smile of mnemosyne: John Wheeler between history of science and arts

15:20 Ladislav Kvasz, Institute of philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague
On epistemological reconstruction of the development of the concept of space in geometry and in painting

Cultural politics of historical epistemology

17:20 PETER GALISON, Harvard University
Wastewilderness: nuclear lands

Friday JUNE 10, 2022

Chair Matteo Vagelli, Ca’ Foscari/Harvard University

9:30 Gwenda-lin Grewal, New School for Social Research
Fashion and academic divisiveness

10:10 Maria Teresa Costa, MPIWG Berlin
A transcultural history of art history from the 19th century and beyond. Art and science in a dialogue

11:20 Lucie Fabry, AMU/CGGG
Is there a science of interpretation? Sociology of art and epistemology of social sciences in the work of Jean-Claude Passeron

Chair Caroline Angleraux, Labex Who am I?/IHPST

14:00 Matteo Vagelli, Ca’ Foscari/Harvard University
Theories of “scientific styles” across the arts/sciences divide

14:40 Daniel Rodriguez-Navas, New School for Social Research
Art and science, method and style: the function of the concept of style in French historical epistemology

15:20 Rémi Mermet, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Between art and science: Ernst Cassirer’s concept of style

16:20 Agnese Ghezzi, IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca
The entangled histories of anthropology and photography, between art and science

17:00 ELENA CANADELLI, Università degli Studi di Padova
Art, science, and nature: museums as entangled spaces

This workshop is organized by:

Épistémologie Historique. Research Network on the History and the Methods of Historical Epistemology

With the support of

Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage;
European Commission (This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101030646, “EPISTYLE”);
IHPST (UMR 8590, Paris 1/CNRS);
Centre Gilles Gaston Granger (UMR 7304);

Center for Renaissance and Early Modern Thought (CREMT).

Organizing committee

Matteo Vagelli (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia/Harvard University);
Caroline Angleraux (Labex Who Am I?/IHPST);
Lucie Fabry (Aix Marseille Université, Centre Gilles-Gaston Granger);
Iván Moya-Diez (Universidad Alberto Hurtado);
Thomas Embleton (IHPST).


Art, Science, and Nature: Museums as Entangled Spaces

Elena Canadelli, Università degli Studi di Padova

Natural history museums and science and technology museums are currently facing many challenges in terms of change of narratives and curatorial trends. Today, many Western scientific museums are wondering how to cope with their history and their historical collections, and how to rethink their identities and exhibitions, which are deeply rooted in the nineteenth-century ideas of science, nature, civilization, progress, production, and development–whether we like it or not. Exhibiting scientific objects traditionally means adopting a specific narrative and selection of artefacts not only in connection to scientific theories and ideas, but also to political or ideological agendas. This talk will show how complex and entangled are the narratives behind the public display of natural history and scientific artefacts in museums during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, selecting some European cases as relevant examples. Today, one of the ways in which scientific museums are changing their narratives is the introduction of contemporary art in their research projects and strategies of engaging different kinds of audiences. Thus, many contemporary artists are developing projects in collaboration with scientific museums worldwide, from the National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci in Milan to the Natural History Museum in Berlin. This presentation will explore this general topic, on the one hand addressing examples of recent collaborations between artists and scientific museums, and on the other hand focusing on some relevant moments of this collaboration in the history of this seminal Western institution.

A Transcultural History of Art History from the 19th Century and beyond. Art and Science in a Dialogue

Maria Teresa Costa, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin)

As art history emerged as scientific discipline in the second half of the 19th century, first in the German speaking context and then in other countries, two opposite tendencies were developing. On one side the connoisseurship, approaching the work of art in its singularity and studying its material and technical aspects with an attributionist aim, and following an evolutionary idea of art history. On the other side, different approaches were unified by the analysis of the work of art within its broader cultural context, in reconstructing its social, cultural and political dimensions, in the dialogue with other disciplines. Both groups wanted to legitimate their methodologies on a “scientific” basis, the first grounded on the direct observation of the work of art, the latter developing a series of general concepts (Grundbegriffe), valid for interpreting works coming from different cultural contexts. This second tendency, born in German speaking countries as “Kunstwissenschaft”, and later translated in France as “science de l’art”, emerged in taking distance exactly from the direct study of techniques and material aspects, working on a more abstract level and aiming to pinpoint affinities and similarities between artifacts. Alois Riegl’s Kunstwollen, Heinrich Wölfflin’s Formgefühl, Aby Warburg’s Pathosformel and Henri Focillon’s Vie des formes are only a few examples. In this paper, I want to discuss this methodological gap between different approaches to art history in the epoch in which it was more intensively aiming to build its disciplinary identity, and to follow its development in the actual art historical practice.

Is there a science of interpretation? Sociology of art and epistemology of social sciences in the work of Jean-Claude Passeron

Lucie Fabry, Aix-Marseille Université/Centre Gilles Gaston Granger

In Sociological reasoning (1st ed. 1991), Jean-Claude Passeron brings together chapters on the epistemology of the social sciences and chapters on the sociology of art and culture. I will question the relationships between these two dimensions of his work, going beyond the observation that Passeron is a sociologist with an interest in the epistemology of his discipline. I will show that these two dimensions of his work have in common that they grant a central role to the notion of interpretation: Passeron claims, in his epistemological work, that the social sciences are interpretative sciences, and his sociology analyses the interpretations of works of art. By comparing what Passeron writes, as a sociologist, on aesthetic interpretations as social practices, and what he writes, as an epistemologist, on interpretations as scientific practices, I will question of the relation between art and science, but also between epistemology and sociology of science. I will wonder, in particular, whether Passeron defines demarcation criteria between scientific and non-scientific interpretations, and in what sense these scientific norms may differ from the social norms of interpretation.

The Smile of Mnemosyne: John Wheeler between History of Science and Arts

Stefano Furlan, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin)

John A. Wheeler (1911-2008) is a leading figure of 20th-century physics, well-known even to a larger public for his evocative expressions such as “black hole” or “it from bit”. Much less-known – actually, almost entirely unexplored – is his active engagement with the arts and their history, as well as with the history of science. This paper intends to offer some insights on Wheeler’s related activities from the 1950s to the early 1960s. A first aspect concerns his reflections on a meta-level, viz. how he conceived his own physical researches within a historical dimension, what uses of the past he resorted to, which features had to be emphasized in the large historical projects he was starting to plan and organize (such as the famous “Sources for History of Quantum Physics”, then led by T. Kuhn, J.Heilbron and others). Interestingly enough, Wheeler was inspired by interviews that he happened to read in some art journals, where e.g. young writers were interviewing distinguished colleagues about their creative processes. Likewise, Wheeler intended to preserve the legacy of the founders of 20th-century physics not just by gathering documents or “factual” pieces of information, but having competent people interviewing them and trying to shed light on their heuristic strategies, inspirations, and so on. This methodological analogy clearly aimed at offering a different picture of physics and of its actors, a task particularly urgent after the recent appearance of an ambivalence towards its role in creating the terrifying weapons that appeared at the end of World War II. However, that was not simply a captivating move: in Wheeler’s mind it synergistically interacted with his very peculiar way (at least among recent physicists) of looking at the past. Far from considering history as obsolete material for dusty archives, Wheeler always tried to look for inspiration from past ideas or theories, either by analogy or by identifying some untapped potential still waiting to be disclosed. If, to outsiders, this may sound as a noble but impractical attitude in science, it is worth underlining that it was such an operation that led Wheeler to dust off first (early 1950s-early 1970s) Einstein’s legacy, and later Bohr’s. His renewed meditations on the work of his two great mentors did bear fruit: what nowadays appears as Wheeler’s most “futuristic” or “visionary” proposals, black holes and quantum information as a basis for everything, started as a fully aware, even methodological operation of polishing and disclosing the potentialities of past ideas. He had a similar attitude also when it came to pictures, that he largely employed both in his heuristics (as a visual thinker) and in the popularization of his researches. In this sense, he developed a quasi-Warburgian conception of pictures and of their powers, which saw him re-exhuming and re-functionalizing diagrams or illustrations from previous centuries. All these aspects can be seen in action, also thanks to the working notes that Wheeler dutifully kept for posterity and for future “historical epistemologists”, in the long, complex path that led him to become the godfather of black holes.

Wastewilderness: Nuclear Lands 

Peter Galison, Harvard University

As they are usually understood, the designations “nuclear wasteland” and “pure wilderness” are opposites poles.  When the two kinds of lands converge into nature reserves on the sites of decommissioned nuclear weapons lands, storage facilities, or accident sites, we often describe this circumstance as “paradoxical” or “ironic.”  Taking stock of plans to manage lands (and build monuments to warn the very distant future), I argue that the categories of wastelands and wilderness are far from antipodes; that their relation is more intriguing (and disturbing) than a binary of purity against corruption or civilization against chaos.  Indeed, the most radioactive site in the U.S. weapons complex is also, astonishingly, one of the most bio-diverse in North America, with similar developments across the world.  Removing parts of the earth in perpetuity —for reasons of sanctification or despoilment–alters a central feature of the human self, presenting us in a different relation to the physical world, and raising irreducible ethical questions about who we are when land can be classified, forever, as not for us humans.  Confronting such territories sets us where historical epistemology crosses with the ethics of how we cultivate our relation with the self, others, and the non-human, now and for the long term.

The entangled histories of anthropology and photography, between art and science

Agnese Ghezzi, IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca

The history of anthropology offers an interesting vantage point to analyse the connections as well as the demarcations between the “two cultures”. Looking at the institutionalisation of the anthropological discipline in Italy during the second half of the nineteenth century, the paper aims to analyse the different scholarly discourses around what anthropology should be. Such arguments moved primarily on the divide between a cultural and scientific orientation of the discipline’s object and methodology (Pogliano 1993, Stocking 1996).
The formation of anthropology happened in a phase of delineation of the natural and the human sciences and the new community of anthropologists  – made of “zoologists and travellers, paleethnologists and physicians, psychiatrists and physiologists, philologists and historians” (Mantegazza 1901) – entered into that crack and developed within it. While some scholars saw anthropology as a “natural history of man” and promoted the application of a rigid scientific method, others privileged the attention to historical, cultural, or psychological data. I will, therefore, analyse how the new community mediated between these two poles, looking at the intersection with other disciplines and especially at the contact with ideas of art and science.
Firmly rooted in medical knowledge, anthropology was moving on the line between what Ginzburg called an anatomical/naturalist model and a conjectural/semiotic model (Ginzburg 1980). On the one hand, anthropologists desired a highly disciplined representation of human varieties and tried to build a ‘human atlas’ where the biological features resulted isolated and comparable. On the other, they looked for a less staged and more lively description, not focused on bodily features but on attitudes, traditions and habits, with the attempt to build a system of “comparative psychology” (Mantegazza, Giglioli and Letourneau 1873).
I will particularly analyse the methods that were proposed in regards to observation and visualisation, that emerged as crucial practices to address (Daston and Lunbeck 2011, Edwards 2016). Photography was soon promoted as a fundamental ally in the classification of human groups and handbooks referenced to the correct employ of such visual technique (Puccini 1998). Next to the need for a “scientific photography” that follows the anthropometric standard – in line with the paradigm of ‘mechanical objectivity’ (Daston and Galison 1992, 2007) – there was the need for an “artistic photography” able to capture the attitude and the character of the portrayed subjects (Zannetti and Giglioli 1874).
Therefore, the paper crosses the 19th-century debate on the definition of photography as a technique at the intersection between art and science with the discourses around anthropology as a discipline in between the humanistic and the scientific domain. It will consider how fin-de-siecle Italian anthropology invoked both artistic and scientific concepts and it will explore if and how photography shaped and influenced the method of the discipline itself and, vice versa, how that branch of knowledge regulated and systematised the use of photography (Caraffa et al. 2019). Looking inward to how the tools made the discipline, this paper identifies the various discourses associated with photography, exploring the influence visual materials exerted on scientific theory.

Fashion and Academic Divisiveness

Gwen Grewal, The New School for Social Research

“Fashion” seems to be neither an art nor a science. At its most narrow, it might be argued to belong to the third culture of the “social sciences”; at its broadest, it might be cast as equivalent to the mode or style in which every art, science, or social science must participate by default. Yet the scorn fashion receives from the so-called arts and the indifference it receives from the so-called sciences suggest an interesting critique of their division.
In Anachronic Renaissance, Christopher Wood and Alexander Nagel have argued that the arrival of art history in the late medieval or early Renaissance period is simultaneous to the inclusion of fashion in art. During that period, a secular vision of art appears in which fashion is integral, for fashion seems to rear its head alongside a cultural awareness of time and in contrast to timeless iconography. Nagel and Wood’s view is one shared by fashion historians and philosophers alike. For example, in her recent book Social Appearances, Barbara Carnevali attributes fashion’s modernity to the expression of “individuality and originality” in clothing; while in Seeing Through Clothes, Anne Hollander distinguishes fashionable modernity from its fashionless past by the presence of “significant distortion and creative tailoring.”
I offer two points of criticism to these views: 1) Fashion is not modern. It may be as ancient as that old quarrel Plato speaks of in the Republic between philosophy and poetry—a quarrel that could easily be extended to the 20th century division between hard and soft intellectual modes. 2) Attributing any beginning to fashion is as impossible as positing a beginning for thinking. Yet the advantage to historicizing fashion may be summarized thus:  if there were to be a time before we wore time’s baggage on our persons—a time when our being in the world was stripped or at least unaware of its mode—we might be able to imagine a future in which epistemology could be, uncluttered by individual flair.
Fashion’s association with fluffy femininity is the specter of the perception of the “arts” in its most ill-starred form, and the widening gap between the arts and the sciences is traceable to that same longing to expiate ourselves of fashion’s influence. But, as Rousseau remarks in the First Discourse, the arts and sciences both amp up their specialized jargon to conceal ignorance; this enervates big questions in favor of small distinctions. The divisions in academia, ever finer, ever more querulous, display an “achievement” whose price is a removal from the indivisible world that inspired its inquiry. Within itself it becomes further removed from itself. Rousseau seems to have anticipated the lack of communication between literary intellectuals and scientists that C.P. Snow described. Travel between the two cultures becomes impossible, when the question of mode—of fashion—has been forgotten. The sidelining of fashion, understood both as a “lesser art” that deals with clothing and as way or manner, is not only a symptom of the division between the arts and sciences, but also an unsuspected route through which one might assess its current appearance.

Polemics and Epistemes:Symbiontics in Contemporary Bio-Arts

Caroline A. Jones, MIT

Can polemics shift epistemes? The artworld operates on this utopian premise. A century of symbiosis theory has quietly or explicitly challenged “Darwin’s bulldogs” and neo-Darwinism. Yet scientists working today on symbiosis in life systems still operate culturally within an episteme of Darwinian evolutionary theory and domestication metaphors: “harnessing” metabolisms by “cheaters” or “altruists,” the parasite and its host. Artists are crafting a frontal attack on the Darwinian episteme, informing an urgent polemic I dub “Symbiontics.”  This presentation will explore the collaborations between artists and science (if not scientists) that allow us to explore this portmanteau, which takes technical philosophy’s term “ontic” and adds it to symbiosis to support the claim that symbiosis is that-which-is. Indebted to the wordplay of biologists themselves (Ivan Wallin, Scott Gilbert) and cultural theorists (Beth Demster, Donna Haraway) “symbiontics” plies its craft literally in artworks that sprout mycelial blooms, plasmodium patterns, or HeLa cell patterns. The endosymbiotic and serial endosymbiosis theories of evolution that biologist Lynn Margulis put forward in the late ‘60s are now gaining impact in the shifting cultural frame of the contemporary art world. Their uptake by the visual arts will be discussed via a range of contemporary art works that attempt to sense the message of evolution: all creatures live on a microbial planet and do best when they proliferate genomic flexibility and welcome symbiotic partners. Survival favors the most interdependent.
As curator of the forthcoming exhibition Symbionts, I will argue that a new demographic of contemporary artists questions the “code dominance” of 2000.  Two decades into the new millennium, we might be able to resonate with the fact that our cells are cooperative amalgams of aerobic single-celled organisms merging into other archaeobacteria, that multicellular bodies carry around a swarm of bacteria that chemically modulate our moods, digest our food, and provide a constant stream of information to our immune system. Building on Margulis’s hunch that our sensory cells themselves derive from ancient partnerships formed with spirochetic bacteria, I ask after the (un)conscious wriggling chemical and electromagnetic sensitivities that give us our haptic, auditory, olfactory, and retinal access to the world — a strange universe of epistemic possibilities that entails using our equally strange tools of art (Noë) and entanglements (Barad) to open ourselves to the resonant frequencies of ancient collaborators within. I argue for a polemical shift in a dominant scientific episteme, following art toward a being-with our symbionts, calling upon viscera to confirm our interspecies dependence.

On Epistemological Reconstruction of the Development of the Concept of Space in Geometry and in Painting

Ladislav Kvasz, Institute of philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Prague)

In Ancient Greek mathematics we cannot find any systematic study of the concept of space. If we take Euclid, Archimedes or Apollonius, we see them study different geometrical objects, but never any study of space. It seems, that the notion of space entered mathematics after Renaissance from painting. After space was reified in geometry (i.e. turned into an object of study) by Desargues, an interesting and intricate development of the notion of space started. In my book Patterns of Change (Kvasz 2008, pp. 111 – 159) I proposed an epistemological reconstruction of the development of the notion of space in geometry using Wittgenstein´s picture theory of meaning.

The main idea of this approach is to apply Wittgenstein´s picture theory of meaning to pictures contained in groundbreaking text on geometry. It turns out, that the most natural way to reconstruct the development of geometric space from an epistemological point of view is to reconstruct it as the development of the pictorial form of the particular mathematical texts. According to Wittgenstein the pictorial form is the way how aspects of a (linguistic) representation are related to the world they represent. It is possible to discriminate several pictorial forms, i.e. different ways of how geometers organize the systems of lines, that constitute their pictures, into a geometric representation. It turns out, that the main breakthroughs in the development of geometry were accompanied with changes of the pictorial form.

Maybe even more interesting feature of the present approach is, that very similar innovations, than those used by Desargues, Lobachevski, Klein or Poincaré in geometry, were used by painters like Albrecht Dürer, Andrea Pozzo, Diego Velázquez, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne or George Braque. In the paper I will introduce the concept of pictorial form of a representation, distinguish four different pictorial forms in the history of geometry and show paintings which use analogous pictorial forms.

This shows, that at least in the area of visual representation the boundaries between geometry and painting are blurred. The analysis indicates, that there is a fundamental level of understanding our spatial experience, that unites science with art.


Kvasz, Ladislav: Patterns of Change. Linguistic Innovations in the Development of Classical Mathematics. Birkhäuser, Basel 2008.

Between Art and Science: Ernst Cassirer’s Concept of Style

Remi Mermet, Centre d’histoire des philosophies modernes de la Sorbonne

In the Logic of the Cultural Sciences (1942), German philosopher and epistemologist Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945) used the concept of style (Stilbegriff) to legitimize the scientific nature of art history and, more generally, of the human sciences, but also to distinguish them (after Wilhelm Dilthey and Heinrich Rickert) from the natural sciences. According to him, style is indeed a formal or structural concept that prevents the Kunst- or Kulturwissenschaftler from falling into the triple pitfall of naturalism, historicism and psychologism, thus allowing them to develop a methodology that is irreducible to causality, i.e. to the methodology that is typical of the sciences of nature.

Yet, 20 years earlier, in “The Concept of Symbolic Form in the Construction of the Human Sciences” (1923), Cassirer had already borrowed Goethe’s concept of style to describe not the cultural sciences, but the natural sciences of his time, and more particularly Albert Einstein’s physics, which, he admitted, is not exclusively causal in nature, since it also uses formal or structural categories. In so doing, Cassirer did not seek to blur the differences between the sciences of nature and the sciences of culture. Rather, he tried to demonstrate that, if there indeed is a “science of art” (Kunstwissenschaft) that can produce some knowledge about artistic phenomena, there also exists what could be called an “art of science”, in that, as Goethe himself suggested, science as a whole is a symbolic process through which humanity shapes (and not simply imitates or explains a pre-given) reality.

This exemplarity of art for science raises the question of the very nature of the concept of style in Ernst Cassirer’s philosophy. Is it only meant to be an epistemological concept used to characterize a certain mode of scientific practice? Or is it meant to define, in a more profound way, symbolism as such? Drawing upon the Metaphysics of Symbolic Forms, I will show that for Cassirer, style is neither an “alter ego” of the symbolic form (Naumann), nor a conceptual tool limited to the analysis of artistic forms (Lauschke). It instead designates the specific manner in which the symbolic function of the human mind actually takes shape and diversifies throughout history. That is why Cassirer’s concept of style could be understood as a symbolism in action or in progress, i.e. as a historicized version of Goethe’s maxim, according to which “the particular is the general made manifest under different conditions.”

How Maxwell Discovered the Maxwell Equations

Francesco Nappo, Department of Mathematics, Politecnico di Milano

The official story – the one still taught in many university-level physics courses – of how J. C. Maxwell arrived at the Maxwell equations goes roughly as follows. Having collected the main experimental laws of the electromagnetic science of his time, namely Gauss’ law for electricity, Gauss’ law for magnetism, Faraday’s law for electrical induction, and Ampère’s law for electromagnetism, Maxwell noticed that they jointly violated the principle of conservation of charge. For this reason, and possibly motivated by a love for symmetries, he decided to add an additional term to the equations – the ‘displacement current’, understood as a rate of change of an electric field over time. By means of this bold postulation (which further experiments surprisingly confirmed), the principle of conservation of charge got restored.

As a matter of historical fact, things went very differently. In the first part of the presentation, I will sketch the main elements of Maxwell’s monumental scientific creation. It involved re-imagining electromagnetic forces in the mathematically more familiar terms of fluids flowing in tubes of variable section, exploiting analogies with hydrodynamics. Subsequently, Maxwell introduced an imaginary substratum of the electromagnetic forces consistent with the fluid model, exploiting an analogy with a mechanical system of molecular vortices. The introduction of the displacement current resulted from Maxwell’s insight that the system would need to be elastic in order to account for the phenomena of electrostatic charge and induction.

In the second part of the presentation, I will discuss some interesting similarities and differences of Maxwell’s scientific creation with artistic creation. Special attention will be paid to the description of Maxwell’s work as an exercise of a ‘constrained’ form of freedom. In this context, a connection will be drawn with the philosophical reflections of John Dewey and Benedetto Croce concerning the aesthetic aspects of scientific investigation and the thesis of the ‘primacy of the aesthetic’. The idea that the scientific investigator is, in the course of doing his or her research, aesthetically engaged sets the stage for a historically well-informed discussion of the aesthetics of science – the (severely underexplored) discipline concerned with the ‘intuitive’ and ‘non-conceptual’ elements inherent to the scientific practices of knowledge-production.

Cultural Politics of Historical Epistemology

Pietro Daniel Omodeo, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice

This communication addresses the political question of historical epistemology, at three levels. As I consider historical epistemology to be an inquiry into the genesis, validity and goals of knowledge (especially, scientific knowledge) and politics as the realm of collective agency, the political question  of historical epistemology especially concerns the collective character of the goals that inform science. First, the political question relates to the function of science at the level of ideas, that is, as ideology. In this respect, science can be understood as a historically given intellectual means to justify and guide collective decisions by acting at a psychological and, as it were, a spiritual level. Secondly, science as a force of transformation also acts as a material means of change of nature and of society. This second level is directly connected with the Baconian nexus of knowledge and domination, but re-read through praxeological lenses as a problem of objective change of environmental conditions. Thirdly, at the meta-level, historical epistemology as a specific path to knowledge theory reverses abstract conceptions of science and nature as they were both given in absolute terms. By contrast, it investigates the concrete conditions for the emergence, development and directness of all knowledge. In this sense, historical epistemology can be seen as the knowledge theory of historical materialism. It favours a critical but not skeptical attitude toward science and its potential. In this perspective, historical epistemology is a matter of cultural politics.

Art and Science, Method and Style: The Function of the Concept of Style in French Historical Epistemology

Daniel Rodriguez-Navas, The New School for Social Research

The goal of this presentation is to elucidate the relationship between two pairs of concepts: the concepts of method and style within French historical epistemology (FHE), and the concepts of scientific and of artistic style.

After an introductory discussion of the idea of FHE, understood, through the Wittgenstenian model of family resemblance, as a family of views about and ways of engaging in the history and philosophy of science, I will argue, in a first part of the presentation, that a concept ‘like’ the concept of style is ‘called for’ by the FHE approach to the history and philosophy of science. The starting point of the argument will be the observation that one of the typical traits of FHE is the idea that the history of science is irreducible to the chronology of discoveries within each scientific discipline (Canguilhem). For one of the tasks of the FHEpistemologist—with apologies for the barbaric abbreviation—is to identify patterns in the discourse and practices of scientists (in a capacious sense of the term that includes, as Canguilhem notes, those who grant themselves that honorific title without being quite entitled to it).

This irreducibility of the history of science to the chronology of scientific discovery, however, imposes an important restriction on how FHEpistemologists may go about identifying those patterns: they cannot rely on references to the scientific methods explicitly and self-consciously adopted by past scientists, as this would amount to adopting the latter’s perspectives, ensuring that the resulting history would be mere chronology. Hence the usefulness of a concept ‘like’ the concept of style for FHEpistemologists and the sense in which FHE ‘calls for’ such a concept. The notion of style enables FHEpistemologists to identify types of unity and coherence in scientific discourse and practices other than the unity conferred upon them by consciously adopted scientific methodologies. It enables them to see past scientific practice and discourse from a perspective other than that internal to the disciplines that constitute their object of enquiry. Borrowing Bachelard’s understating of the épistemologie as the psychoanalysis of the scientific mind, we might simply say that style is unconscious counterpart of conscious scientific method. More precisely, if less simply, we will say is that if the mark of scientific reason is that it consciously regulates itself through explicitly and self-consciously adopted and methodological principles, each ‘style of scientific thought’ (a variant of Hacking’s “styles of scientific reasoning”) is the concrete manifestation of the unconscious counterpart of scientific reason.

This insight, that the concept of scientific style is, within FHE, the functional analogue of the concept of method in alternative approaches to the history and philosophy of science, provides a useful entry-point for the second part of the presentation, the discussion of the relationship between the concepts of scientific and artistic style. I will argue that strictly speaking, the concept of method finds no application in the case of aesthetic production (while insisting that the concept of technique plays an analogous role), and offer the rudiments of an account of this difference between artistic and scientific production, and of the corresponding difference between the notions of scientific and artistic style, in terms of a difference between the teleological constraints that guide and govern scientific and artistic practice: while in the case of the sciences ‘the facts’ function as ‘hard external constraints’, the arts meet no such external constraints. Instead, they are ‘dialectically regulated’ by the aesthetic standards dominant within their respective cultural-historical settings, ‘soft’ standards which they aim to reconfigure and subvert without altogether forsaking.

Varieties of pluralism. Granger’s, Feyerabend’s and Hacking’s theories of scientific styles compared

Matteo Vagelli, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice / Harvard University

One of the “pluralisms” that proliferated in Anglophone philosophy of science during the second half of the twentieth century involves conceiving of the history of science as a history of “scientific styles”. A growing number of historians and philosophers of science have touted the concept of style as more flexible than method in conceiving of the historicity and plurality of the ways of thinking, discovering, and experimenting that constitute the sciences. Conflicting interpretations of “styles” in science mainly concern whether the term implies abandonment of the realism, objectivity, and progressiveness commonly understood to distinguish science from the arts. My aim is to give an overview of the different ways the concept of “scientific styles” has been understood in the history of philosophy of science. I will moreover try to show how some versions of this concept allows for a form of pluralism that avoids relativism.

In the first part of my talk, I will discuss how P.K. Feyerabend mobilized art historian Alois Riegl’s idea of self-standing cultural units (Kunstwollen, “will to art”) to show that different scientific theories, like different artistic styles, cannot be compared against a common background and are therefore “incommensurable”. From this perspective, expounded in Feyerabend’s Wissenschaft Als Kunst (1984), science is analogous to the arts in that neither shows objectivity or progress. I will then contrast Feyerabend’s view with the one put forward by Hacking, whose style-project, which spanned over 30 years, elaborates a notion of “styles of scientific reasoning” aiming to account for the objective and progressive nature of scientific knowledge and practice. By conceiving scientific styles as a relatively closed set of ways of finding out about the world and intervening in it, Hacking’s styles tend to accumulate-both reasoning strategies and ontological entities.

In the second part of my talk, I will analyse Gilles-Gaston Granger’s theory of scientific styles as developed in his Essai d’une philosophie du style (1968), a deeply original and yet scarcely studied epistemological analysis of style. Granger’s Essai, not available in English, has so far aroused interest only in French scholarship. In this work, Granger reworks the notion of style from the ground up, advancing an idea of “generalized stylistics” to theorize the dynamics mutually shaping objects and methods of production. Far from being merely ornamental, style for Granger becomes a category of formal thought through which one can reconsider the dialectics among theory and practice, abstraction, and individualization. I will highlight Granger’s Essai as an example of “comparative epistemology” that attempts to interrogate the boundaries of the natural, formal, human, and social sciences in terms of both objects and methods.

All three theories endorse a form of scientific pluralism. Yet whereas Feyerabend’s styles invite epistemic relativism and constructivism, Hacking’s and Granger’s theories show that style can support objectivity, realism, and progressiveness. Taking this comparative analysis as my point of departure, I will argue, against Feyerabend’s stylistic anarchism or epistemic “Dadaism”, that the historicity and plurality of scientific styles do not imply epistemic relativism.

Colloque: Claude Bernard. Histoire et philosophie d’une théorie physiologique (17-18 mai 2022)

Colloque : « Claude Bernard. Histoire et philosophie d’une théorie physiologique »

Lieu : Montréal, CIRST
Dates : mardi 17 & mercredi 18 mai 2022

Le colloque sera donné en format hybride

Le programme est disponible à l’URL suivant :

Prière de s’inscrire préalablement via :–orjIoGNeZgRqbomkhYgLZRWhCWhiU

Local : Université du Québec à Montréal

Pavillon Thérèse-Casgrain (W)
455, Boulevard René-Lévesque Est

Montréal, Québec, H2L 4Y2

Département de philosophie,

5e étage Salle W-5215

Informations :

Colloquium « Claude Bernard. History and philosophy of a Physiological Theory »

Location : Montréal, CIRST
Dates : Tuesday 17th  & Wednesday 18th, May 2022

The colloquium will be held as a hybrid event

The program is available at the following url :

Please register beforehand at :–orjIoGNeZgRqbomkhYgLZRWhCWhiU

Room : Université du Québec à Montréal

Pavillon Thérèse-Casgrain (W)
455, Boulevard René-Lévesque Est

Montréal, Québec, H2L 4Y2

Département de philosophie,

5th Floor, Room W-5215 

Informations :

Styles and Method in the Early-Modern and the Modern Period

Styles and Method in the Early-Modern and the Modern Period 
Spring 2022 – Online Seminar
Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia – Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage

European Commission – This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101030646, “EPISTYLE”

Organizer: Matteo Vagelli (Ca’ Foscari/Harvard)
Further information:
APRIL 11, 2022  
17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5
Carlotta Santini, CNRS
Reading well, writing well, living well. Friedrich Nietzsche and the question of style

APRIL 26, 2022
17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5
Raz Chen-Morris, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Fantasy, Scientific Thought and the End of Baroque Science

MAY 2, 2022
17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5
Denis Kambouchner, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Du style en philosophie, à partir de Descartes – entretien avec Denis Kambouchner

MAY 12, 2022
17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5
Emilie Passignat, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia
Manner: Connoisseurship and Taxonomy, Individual and Collective Identity

MAY 23, 2022
17.30h CET – 16.30h GMT – 11.30 GMT-5

Gianna Pomata, Johns Hopkins
The Unbearable Lightness of Thinking: Theory as “Capriccio” in 17th-Century Medicine
Matteo Vagelli, PhD
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice/Harvard University) 

Publication Bachelard Studies 2/2021 – Publication Etudes Bachelardiennes 2/2021 – Pubblicazione Studi Bachelardiani 2/2021

Chères Autrices,
Chers Auteurs,

Nous sommes heurex de partager avec vous la publication du Numèro 2/2021 «Gaston Bachelard, the “non-psychoanalyst”» – «Bachelard, le “non psychanalyste”» – «Bachelard, il “non psicanalista”» Sous la direction de: Ilona BLOCIAN et Marta PLES-BEBEN

Les auteurs des textes du nouveau volume de la revue Bachelard Studies – Études Bachelardiennes – Studi Bachelardiani explorent de nombreux aspects et contextes liés aux relations entre la pensée de Gaston Bachelard et la psychanalyse, tant pour la rationalité que pour la poétique. Parmi les problèmes soulevés, on retrouve le caractère
problématique et la fécondité des références de Bachelard à la psychanalyse (de Sigmund Freud à la psychologie analytique de Carl Gustav Jung) ; le thème de la pédagogie bachelardienne, qui entrecroise savoirs des sciences humaines et expériences personnelles d’enseignant, inconscient et rupture rationnelle ; la question de l’enfance dans La poétique de la rêverie et finalement  la place du bachelardisme par rapport aux écoles analytiques contemporaines. Les invitations au volume ont été acceptées par Marcel Renée Becerra Batán, Joël Clerget, Nicole Fabre, Nevio Del Longo, Kamila Morawska, Zoé
Pfister, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Christian Thiboutot et Anton Vydra. Leurs analyses perspicaces ont été complétées par des textes d’archives qui renforcent les questions soulevées, entre autres, par le contexte lié à la méthode du rêve éveillé dirigé de Robert Desoille, par la réflexion sur l’imaginaire de Juliette Favez-Boutonnier, ou par la psychanalyse bachelardienne du feu dans l’interprétation de Jean-Jacques Wunenburger qui y montre les tensions visibles dans l’attitude de Bachelard envers Freud. Les éditeurs du volume proposent enfin un état des lieux des recherches menées en Pologne, où le thème de la psychanalyse – en général et en tant qu’inspiration de Bachelard – est retrouvé et de plus en plus présent après des années de silence. Nous espérons que le volume trouvera des lectrices et des lecteurs qui voudront s’attarder avec nous
sur la (non)psychanalyse de Gaston Bachelard.

Ilona Blocian & Marta Ples-Beben

«Bachelard, le “non psychanalyste”»:

Dear Friends,

We are pleased to share with you the publication of the Issue 2/2021 «Gaston Bachelard, the “non-psychoanalyst”» – «Bachelard, the “non-psychoanalyst”» – «Bachelard, il “non psicanalista”» Edited by: Ilona BLOCIAN and Marta PLES-BEBEN

The authors of the texts in the new volume of the journal Bachelard Studies – Études Bachelardiennes – Studi Bachelardiani explore many aspects and contexts related to the relationship between Gaston Bachelard’s thought and psychoanalysis, both for rationality and poetics. Among the issues raised are the problematic nature and fruitfulness of Bachelard’s references to psychoanalysis (from Sigmund Freud to Carl Gustav Jung’s analytical psychology); the theme of Bachelardian pedagogy, which intertwines knowledge from the humanities and personal experiences as a teacher, the unconscious, and the rational break; the question of childhood in The Poetics of Daydreaming; and finally, the place of Bachelardianism in relation to contemporary analytic schools. Invitations to the volume were accepted by Marcel Renée Becerra Batán, Joël Clerget, Nicole Fabre, Nevio Del Longo, Kamila Morawska, Zoé Pfister, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Christian Thiboutot and Anton Vydra. Their insightful analyses have been complemented by archival texts that
reinforce the questions raised, among others, by the context of Robert Desoille’s directed waking dream method, by Juliette Favez-Boutonnier’s reflection on the imaginary, or by Jean-Jacques Wunenburger’s Bachelardian psychoanalysis of fire in interpretation, in which he shows the tensions visible in Bachelard’s attitude towards Freud. Finally, the editors of the volume propose a survey of the research carried out in Poland, where the theme of psychoanalysis – in general and as an inspiration for Bachelard – is being rediscovered and increasingly present after years of silence. We hope that the volume will find readers who will want to dwell with us on Gaston Bachelard’s (non)psychoanalysis.

Ilona Blocian & Marta Ples-Beben

«Gaston Bachelard, the “non-psychoanalyst”»

Care Amiche,
Cari Amici,

Siamo lieti di annunciare la pubblicazione del numero 2/2021 «Gaston Bachelard, the “non-psychoanalyst”» – «Bachelard, the “non-psychoanalyst”» – «Bachelard, il “non psicanalista”» Curato da: Ilona BLOCIAN e Marta PLES-BEBEN

Gli autori dei testi di questo numero di Bachelard Studies – Études Bachelardiennes – Studi Bachelardiani esplorano molti aspetti e contesti relativi al rapporto tra il pensiero di Gaston Bachelard e la psicoanalisi, sia nell’ambito epistemologico, sia in quello poetico. Tra le questioni sollevate vi sono la problematicità e la fecondità dei riferimenti di Bachelard alla psicoanalisi (da Sigmund Freud alla psicologia analitica di Carl Gustav Jung); il tema della pedagogia bachelardiana, che intreccia il sapere delle scienze umane e le esperienze personali di insegnante, l’inconscio e la rottura razionale; la questione dell’infanzia in La poetica del sogno ad occhi aperti; e infine il posto del bachelardianesimo in relazione alle scuole analitiche contemporanee. Gli inviti al volume sono stati accettati da Marcel Renée Becerra Batán, Joël Clerget, Nicole Fabre, Nevio Del Longo, Kamila Morawska, Zoé Pfister, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Christian Thiboutot e Anton Vydra. Le loro analisi perspicaci sono state completate da testi d’archivio che rafforzano le questioni sollevate, tra l’altro, dal
contesto del metodo del sogno di veglia diretto di Robert Desoille, dalla riflessione sull’immaginario di Juliette Favez-Boutonnier, o dalla psicoanalisi bachelardiana del fuoco nell’interpretazione di Jean-Jacques Wunenburger, in cui mostra le tensioni visibili nell’atteggiamento di Bachelard verso Freud. Infine, le curatrici del volume propongono una rassegna delle ricerche condotte in Polonia, dove il tema della psicoanalisi – in generale e come ispirazione per Bachelard – viene riscoperto e sempre più presente dopo anni di silenzio. Speriamo che il volume trovi lettori che vogliano soffermarsi con noi sulla (non)psicoanalisi di Gaston Bachelard.

Ilona Blocian & Marta Ples-Beben

«Bachelard, il “non psicanalista”»

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