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Home > Archives > Previous years: Seminars > Seminars 2021-2022: archives > Seminar of the Centre for the History of Philosophy and Science seen from Asia, Africa, and so on (CHPSAA) 2021-2022

Axis interdisciplinarity in History & Philosophy of Science

Seminar of the Centre for the History of Philosophy and Science seen from Asia, Africa, and so on (CHPSAA) 2021-2022

This seminar is one of the activities of the Centre for the History of Philosophy and Science seen from Asia, Africa, and so on.

To current year

PROGRAM 2021-2022

We meet on Mondays or Fridays from 2pm or 2:30pm to 4pm or 4:30pm, at the Université Paris Cité, Condorcet building, 4, rue Elsa Morante, or Building Olympe de Gouges, 75013 Paris (access map).

M 11/15 F 12/3 F 12/10 M 22/1/3 M 2/14 M 3/21 F 4/8 F 5/13 M 5/30 F 6/27

Monday November 15, 2:30pm - 4:30pm, Room Kandinsky, 631B

  • Najaf Haider (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi)
    Thinking with numbers: Quantification and mathematical practices in early modern South Asia

Friday December 3, 2pm - 4pm, Building Olympe de Gouges, Room 324

  • Reading Pascal Boyer’s Tradition as Truth and Communication, A cognitive description of traditional discourse (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990)
  • Reflecting collectively on tradition

Friday December 10, 2:30pm - 4:30pm, Building Condorcet, Room Malevitch, 483A

  • Justin E. H. Smith (Université Paris Cité, HPS, & SPHere)
    Brief Review of La Colonie Philosophique of Catherine König-Pralong
  • Hilde De Weerdt (Universiteit Leiden)
    Regionalizing Infrastructures in Chinese History

Monday January 3, 2022, 2:30pm - 4:30pm, Building Condorcet, Room Mondrian, 646A

  • Karine Chemla (CNRS, SPHere)
    Peoples and civilisations in the historiography of mathematics : A critical approach
    The talk will analyze some of the problems underlying two chapters in the current historiographies of mathematics: the history of numbers and that of symbolism. The common historical approach to these two mathematical entities tacitly supports the idea that peoples and civilisations would constitute relevant frames in the historiography of mathematics. I will show how, in these two cases, this tacit belief derives from methodological shortcomings, and I will suggest how one could reopen these two chapters of the history of mathematics using other assumptions.

Monday February 14, 2:30pm - 4:30pm, Building Condorcet, Room Mondrian, 646A, hybrid (face-to-face tbc)

  • Justin E. H. Smith (Université Paris Cité, HPS, & SPHere)
    Zera Yacub: A 17th-Century Ethiopian Philosopher Who May or May Not Have Existed
    Considerable debate persists as to whether the extant works attributed to Zera Yacub were in fact composed by the 19th-century Italian missionary Giusto d’Urbino. There are several ways by which to approach the question of authenticity. One is philological, by careful attention to the linguistic hints in the manuscripts that the work is not by a native writer of Ge’ez, or that otherwise suggest a later invention or conscious fabrication. Another is so to speak psychobiographical, by close attention to the character of d’Urbino himself, particularly as revealed in his correspondence from Ethiopia with the Parisian manuscript collector Antoine d’Abbadie. In a series of articles, Anaïs Wion has compellingly
    adopted both of these approaches. Less developed in her work is the approach informed by the history of philosophy, to wit: are there philosophical concepts in Zera Yacub’s work, the circulation of which in 17th-century Ethiopia we might have reason to doubt?
    In this talk I will argue that there are perfectly plausible pathways for the circulation of ideas in Ethiopia that appear to resonate more or less contemporaneously with those of René Descartes, and that indeed we might do well to see Zera Yacub’s “meditations” as sharing a common ancestor with the more familiar Cartesian contribution to this genre: to wit, both derive from 16th-century Iberian approaches to the individual cultivation of Catholic spirituality, most notably in Teresa of Avila and in Ignatius of Loyola, which then radiate out towards France and Ethiopia at more or less the same speed. I will argue that our hesitation when confronted with this suggestion has to do with an enduring bad habit of thinking of early modern philosophy, particularly in its extra-European inflections, as something that happens in a vacuum, rather than in a world that is already significantly globalized and interconnected.

Monday March 21, 2:30pm - 4:30pm, Building Condorcet, Room Malevitch, 483A

  • Agathe Keller
    Brief Review of L’événement anthropocène: La Terre, l’histoire et nous, by Fressoz and Bonneuil
  • Celestin Xiaohan Zhou (Institute for the History fo Natural Sciences, Beijing)
    The textual format of a 15th-century Chinese mathematical work: an ongoing reproduction version of Great Compendium (1450)

Friday April 8, 2:30pm - 4:30pm, Building Condorcet, Room Malevitch, 483A

  • Florence Bretelle-Establet (CNRS, SPHere)
    From the construction of TCM to the construction of ’Minority nationality medicine’
    This presentation will be based on the book Gathering Medicines, Nation and Knowledge in China’s South Mountains, published in 2021 by the University of Chicago press. This book, written by the anthropologists Judith Farquhar and Lili Lai, explores the processes at work in the transformation of complex sets of healing practices found among several minorities in the mountains of southern China into a stable entity, recognized by the Chinese state, and named "minority medicine shaoshu minzu yiyao 少數民族醫藥". The discussion of this book, and of one of its major points - the transformation of ’nomad’ sciences into ’royal’ sciences - will lead us to an earlier episode, but one that is fundamental to the constitution of this new ’thing’ that is ’minority medicine’, that of the creation of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), which Kim Taylor has studied particularly well in her book Chinese Medicine in Early Communist China, 1945-1963.

Friday May 13, 14:30 - 16:30 (tbc), Building Condorcet, Room Malevitch, 483A

  • working session with members (tbc)

Monday May 30, 4pm - 6pm, Building Condorcet, Room Valentin, 454A

  • Alexander Jones (New York University, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World)
    Relations in astral sciences between Babylonia, Egypt, and the Greco-Roman world
    In his 1975 History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy Otto Neugebauer presented a restrained picture of relations among the astral sciences of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Greco-Roman world, with transmissions of mathematical astronomy from Babylonia to the Greeks largely limited to observational records and a few numerical parameters, practically no involvement in mathematical astronomy in Egypt, and astrology playing no significant role except as generating a market for astronomical tables and as supplying the modern historian with indirect traces of otherwise superseded astronomical concepts and methods. My talk will outline an ongoing revolution in our understanding of the interactions between the traditions since the late 1980s, which began with the study of a greatly expanded corpus of known Greek astronomical papyri, and is now entering a new phase with the intensive study of late Egyptian, chiefly Demotic, papyri and ostraca relating to both astronomy and astrology.

Monday June 27, 2:30pm - 4:30pm, Building Condorcet, Room Mondrian, 646A

To take part in a virtual way, thanks to write a mail—at the latest 24h before the session—to A. Keller with the subject " 27-06-22CHPSAA ". The link will be sent on the evening eve
  • Minakshi Menon (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science)
    What is colonial science?
    The title of this talk draws on the title for a Focus section that appeared in Isis, the journal of the History of Science Society, in 2005. The editor of the Focus section, as well as four other contributors, offered short historiographic essays on ‘science considered from a colonial or imperial point of view.’ The editor defined ‘colonial science’ as ‘any science done during the colonial era that involved Europeans working in a colonial context, including work done in Europe on colonial resources, and science done in areas of Europe’s territorial or trading empires.’ What united all the essays was the perception that colonial science and its associated practices were primarily European activities driven by epistemologies developed through European knowledge-making practices. Remarkably, none of the essays sought to define ‘colonial’, ‘colonialism’, ‘imperial’ or ‘imperialism’.
    My talk will quickly survey the dramatic shifts that have taken place since 2005 in how historians of science understand ‘colonial science.’ It examines the effects produced on the historiography of the history of science through the introduction of postcolonial studies from the Global South, especially postcolonial science and technology studies. It addresses (among others) the following questions: What does it mean to talk of globalizing the history of science? What is ‘Asia as method’ in science and technology studies? How do we understand the current move to ‘decolonize’ the history of science?
    Video, M. Menon : ‘Decolonizing herbarium collections’, talk for the Humboldt Forum :
  • Thinking about next year program

. . . . . .


Université Paris Diderot – CNRS
Laboratoire SPHERE - UMR 7219
Building Condorcet, 10 rue Alice Domon et Léonie Duquet, & Building Olympe de Gouges, 8 place Paul-Ricoeur (rue Albert-Einstein côté périphérique)
75013 Paris
Plan your itinerary with the Parisian Public Transport

Metro line 14 / RER C / Stop: Bibliothèque François Mitterrand
Metro line 6 / Stop: Quai de la Gare
Bus 64 / Stop: Tolbiac-Bibliothèque François Mitterrand
Buses 62 & 89 / Stop: Avenue de France or Bibliothèque François Mitterrand (terminus)
Bus 325 / Stop: Watt