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Home > Seminars > History of Science, History of Text

Axis Interdisciplinary Research in History and Philosophy of Science

History of Science, History of Text



The seminar examines the various types of documents produced in the context of scholarly practices in order to understand how the shaping of textual forms and inscriptions is part of the scientific activity. The seminar also aims to understand how these works make it possible to better interpret the sources on which historians of science draw to conduct their research. We will focus this year on the following topics:
  • how are layouts instruments that scientists put into play in their work and do they need to be interpreted as such?
  • How to read diagrams?
  • how do the writings and inscriptions produced in one environment circulate and how are they taken up in other milieux?
  • How can we document the genesis of texts, calculations, textual forms, and what does it tell us about the modes of writing practiced in various contexts?
  • How do the sources document what they do not talk about?
  • What does the organization of the writings of the actors tell us about their scholarly activities?


Organizers: Karine Chemla (SPHere, CNRS-University of Paris & Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University) & the HSHT Group.


PROGRAM 2021-20222


Sessions take place on Thursdays, 9:30am–5:30pm, Room, 646A
Université de Paris, campus Diderot, Building Condorcet, 4, rue Elsa Morante, 75013 Paris (map, access)


14/10/2021, 10:15–16:30 : Columns, other textual dispositifs and operations
R. Middeke-Conlin Shifting sand: From prosaic to tabular format used to plan canal maintenance in ancient Iraq
K. Chemla
et A. Keller
Columns, Computations and Notations in Sanskrit and Chinese mathematical sources
A. Keel Steensen Working with inscriptions: making and breaking formal rules as computational practice

11/18/2021, 10:15–16:30 : Modularité, compilations
E. Gurevitch It’s Only a Paper World: Consultation Reading, Excerpting, and Indexing in Early-Modern South Asia
Eleonora Andreani Modularity in Astronomical Procedural Texts: the Case of the Tabule Magne by John of Lignères
Matthias Hayek Revoir ou transformer ? Ruptures et continuités dans les « éditions augmentées » de livres japonais de la seconde moitié du XVIe siècle

12/16/2021 Scientific drafts and genetic criticism
P.-M.de Biasi Vingt ans plus tard, l’avenir d’un dialogue entre critique génétique et histoire des sciences
E. Haffner Critique génétique et mathématiques : expérimentations sur quelques textes de Dedekind
M.-C. Bustamante Une cartographie des notes de lecture de Jacques Solomon ou les possibilités d’une analyse génétique
F. Bretelle-Establet tba

01/13/2022 Notations, symbolism
Massimo Maiocchi tba
A. Remaki tba
Tba tba

02/10/2022 Diagramms
Antoine Pietrobelli L’utilisation des diagrammes dans la médecine de Galien
A. da Silva tba
S. Trigg , tbc tba

03/17/2022 Change of support and editions
E. Lejeune tba
S. Plutniak tba
M. Thaller tba

04/14/2022 Technical Vocabulary
M. Lacomme tba
S. Serra tba
Tba tba

12/05/2022 Fluidity, Adaptations, Translations
M. Decorps La fluidité en lecture et ses conséquences sur la transmission des textes : analyse de quelques exemples dans la littérature mathématique grecque
Julie Lefebvre tba
Pan S. “System and Order”: The Textual Formulation in the Classic-formation of the Chinese Translation of the Elements in the Early 17th Century

2/06/2022 Lecture notes
M.-C. Bustamante Introduction
S. Confalonieri Sur les cours de Fourier à l’École Polytechnique
Wang X. Les cours sur le calcul différentiel de Joseph Fourier
Organisation for next year

The program will be updated on this page during the year

October 14, 2021

:: Columns, other textual dispositifs and operations.

  • Robert Middeke-Conlin (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
    Shifting sand: From prosaic to tabular format used to plan canal maintenance in ancient Iraq
    This workshop will explore tabular layout of texts as an innovation to the planning and upkeep of irrigation projects during the Old Babylonian period (c. 2000-1600 BCE) in what is called the Kingdom of Larsa today (the extreme south of modern-day Iraq). Canals were vital to the economy of southern Iraq at this time. The region is dominated by two rivers: the Tigris and the Euphrates. These rivers were necessary for this region’s economic development, indeed for life itself to exist. Southern Iraq cannot sustain rain-fed agriculture. The rivers were vital to crop growth but were also prone to drought during planting and flooding during harvest. Canals and other waterworks were necessary to agriculture. Ancient Iraq also formed a vital trade entrepot between Iran, the Persian Gulf, and the eastern Mediterranean. The rivers, with their numerous canals, facilitated this trade. For these reasons, the ancient inhabitants of Iraq were constantly altering their environments.
    Administering this water environment required a skilled bureaucracy that constantly produced records. Innovation in record-keeping techniques afforded simpler and more transparent planning and oversight of canal production and maintenance. This presentation explores such innovation by examining the shift from prosaic format to tabular format in the kingdom of Larsa. Focus will first be on two texts that date to the reign of Sūmû-el (1894-1866 BCE), which take on a prosaic format to arrange and express data. These are texts NBC 5410 and NBC 5508. We will then look at two texts from the reign of Rīm-Sîn (1822-1763 BCE), YBC 11409 and NBC 6763, as well as one text from the reign of Hammurabi of Babylon, who conquered Larsa in 1763 BCE, YBC 12273. These three texts use a tabular format to arrange and express data. Additional texts will be mentioned to supplement the presentation as time allows.
    While mathematic content is important to these texts and must be mentioned, the presentation will emphasize shape, layout, and structures. Participants will gain an understanding of how the format of a text affects the data found on the text, how the format depended on the administrative environment in which it was produced, and how this format develops and changes as management changes.
  • Karine Chemla (SPHere, CNRS-University of Paris & Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University) and Agathe Keller (SPHere, CNRS–UP)
    Columns, Computations and Notations in Sanskrit and Chinese mathematical sources
    This talk is a follow-up on Agathe Keller’s talk last year on the topic (La colonne comme outil de calcul dans les commentaires mathématiques en Sanskrit : avec ou sans sens ?). We focus on columns of numbers that actors drew on erasable surfaces as well as in the pages of written documents. We will put Sanskrit and Chinese sources in dialogue, addressing in particular the following questions: which columns did actors draw on erasable surface and which ones on more permanent surfaces? How can historians restore the columns that were drawn only on erasable surfaces? How do texts relate to the columns? Which were the functions of these various kinds of columns, and what were the relationships of columns drawn on the two types of support? What was the status of these columns for actors (layout to operate on? notations?), and can we identify moment when a column shifts from one status to the other? Are changes observable with the transfer from one support to another?
  • Anna Keel Steensen (ETH, Zürich)
    Working with inscriptions: making and breaking formal rules as computational practice
    A mathematician doing a computation may be considered to do the computation formally if following certain rules for transforming expressions without taking into account any meaning that the rules and expressions may have. In this view, ‘formal’ expresses a special relationship between a rule and its meaning: a ‘formal’ computation operates according to a rule independently of its interpretation.


November 18

:: Modularity, compilation

  • Eric Gurevitch (University of Chicago)
    It’s Only a Paper World: Consultation Reading, Excerpting, and Indexing in Early-Modern South Asia
    In 1563, after decades of extensive research in Goa and Ahmadnagar, the Portuguese physician Garcia da Orta published his Colóquios dos simples e drogas da India. This text was quickly summarized and reorganized in a Latin version by Carolus Clusius and would serve as an impetus for a new global botany and pharmacology. This story is now well known, something of a “cult classic” among historians of science and medicine. But by focusing on Orta and his use of indigenous knowledge, we miss a lot. This paper uses Orta’s experiences in the Deccan to broach a set of questions unrelated to the development of modern sciences. How did information – about horticulture, agriculture, medicine, and forest management – circulate across languages and political formations in southern India prior to the arrival of someone like Orta? The paper investigates how large texts were disarticulated, and how portions of them were made portable and brought into new contexts in the early modern period. It traces early-modern practices of information management and consultation reading in southern India and argues that dominant narratives of indigenous knowledge need to take into account these sorts of paper practices.
  • Eleonora Andreani (SYRTE-Observatoire de Paris-PSL, CNRS post-doc ERC ALFA)
    Modularity in Astronomical Procedural Texts: the Case of the Tabule Magne by John of Lignères
    Between 1320 and 1325, the Parisian astronomer John of Lignères dedicates three works to Robert de Bardis, a Florentine 14th century theologian. In the dedication that introduces the work, John of Lignères clarifies that the work he means to offer to Robert de Bardis includes not only the Tabule magne, but also an Equatorium and a Saphea texts and aims at providing an autonomous and simple set of tools related to spherical and planetary astronomy. In this paper I will address the topic of the modularity of texts by focusing on the first of these three works. The Tabule Magne consists of a set of tables and its related texts explaining the use of those table it includes (canons). The tradition of the work comprises seven manuscripts handing out the canons and twenty manuscripts with different portions of tables. I will focus on the text of the canons and more precisely on different ways modularity plays an important role in the construction, circulation and mathematical/astronomical meaning of the text. Overall these analyses, treated by examining some relevant manuscript and textual evidence, allow to address the question of authorial and scribal agency in this particular tradition of mathematical astronomy.
  • Matthias Hayek (EPHE-PSL, CRCAO)
    Revoir ou transformer ? Ruptures et continuités dans les « éditions augmentées » de livres japonais de la seconde moitié du XVIe siècle
    À partir des années 1660, alors que le marché de de l’imprimerie commerciale commence à se stabiliser, les éditeurs japonais semblent avoir encouragé la production d’éditions « augmentées » d’ouvrages, notamment de manuels techniques ou de commentaires, publiés durant la première partie du siècle. Si ce phénomène relève en partie d’une stratégie de différentiation de la concurrence et de recyclage des contenus, il a néanmoins donné l’occasion aux auteurs/compilateurs d’opérer des changements profonds, jusque dans l’organisation même des ouvrages. On peut dès lors s’interroger sur les rapports qui unissent ces éditions augmentées aux livres originaux dont elles sont issues. À travers trois cas (un manuel de divination, un manuel sur la materia dietetica, et un lexique illustré), nous tenterons de réfléchir à la façon dont de nouveaux textes sont produits par ajouts, déplacements, et reconfiguration.


December 16

:: Scientific drafts and genetic criticism

  • Pierre-Marc de Biasi (ITEM, ÉNS-CNRS)
    Vingt ans plus tard, l’avenir d’un dialogue entre critique génétique et histoire des sciences
    Dans un article programmatique paru il y a presque vingt ans ("Sciences : des archives à la genèse. pour une contribution de la génétique des textes à l’histoire des sciences", Genesis 20, Jean-Michel Place éditeur, pp. 19-52, 2003) j’avais essayé de dresser les perspectives d’une collaboration envisageable entre ma discipline (la critique génétique, développée à l’ITEM-ENS-CNRS ) et le renouvellement possible des méthodes en usage chez les historiens des sciences, dans un contexte encore largement dominé par l’approche sociologique. Depuis cette époque, l’idée a fait son chemin, mais dans le même temps de nombreuses métamorphoses, notamment techniques, institutionnelles et environnementales, ont affecté la nature même des archives, leur statut, leur stockage, leur accessibilité, leur gestion, leur traitement et leur analyse, aussi bien pour les documents historiques que pour les traces de la recherche contemporaine in statu nascendi. De son côté, la critique génétique s’est profondément transformée en poursuivant ses recherches du côté de l’histoire des techniques (médiologie, transmission, papier, numérique, etc.), en élargissant ses recherches à des data de très vastes dimensions (grands corpus) et s’ouvrant à de nouveaux domaines, non littéraires ou même non textuels (arts plastiques, musique, cinéma, BD, architecture, etc.) où la logique de la production des images se substitue en partie à celle des processus écrits : des expériences qui l’ont conduite à problématiser ses outils et ses démarches en termes de "génétique des formes" et d’imagerie, en développant notamment quelques hypothèses sur l’œuvre en tant que processus, sur l’analyse algorithmique des phénomènes récurrents, et sur une modélisation variable des phases et des formes de la genèse. Que peut-on dire aujourd’hui des solidarités possibles entre histoire des sciences et approche génétique des archives de la création ? D’un point de vue génétique, comment mobiliser les innombrables traces de la recherche scientifique pour élucider et tenter peut-être modéliser les processus de découverte ? A l’âge du tout numérique, quelle forme pourrait prendre le dialogue le plus fructueux entre la critique génétique et l’histoire des sciences ?
  • Emmylou Haffner (IMO, Univ. Paris-Saclay),
    Critique génétique et mathématiques : expérimentations sur quelques textes de Dedekind
  • Martha-Cecilia Bustamante (SPHERE, Université de Paris)
    Une cartographie des notes de lecture de Jacques Solomon ou les possibilités d’une analyse génétique


January 13, 2022

:: Notations, symbolism



February 10

:: Diagrams

  • Antoine Pietrobelli (CRIMEL, Université de Reims, Champagne-Ardennes)
    L’utilisation des diagrammes dans la médecine de Galien
  • Scott Trigg (ALFA, SYRTE), tbc
    tba


March 17

:: Change of support and editions



April 14

:: Technical Vocabulary

  • Sophie Serra (ALFA, SYRTE)
    tba
  • Tba
    tba


May 12

:: Fluidity, Adaptations, Translations

  • Micheline Decorps (SPHERE, CNRS—Université de Paris)
    La fluidité en lecture et ses conséquences sur la transmission des textes : analyse de quelques exemples dans la littérature mathématique grecque
    L’objet de cette communication est d’observer comment ce concept moderne venu des sciences cognitives peut trouver une application à la fois dans la rédaction des textes et dans leur tradition. On pourra à cette occasion mesurer concrètement les conséquences des stratégies de lecture mises en place dans la chaîne de transmission et l’impact de l’exigence de lisibilité.
  • Pan Shuyuan (Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, Pekin)
    “System and Order”: The Textual Formulation in the Classic-formation of the Chinese Translation of the Elements in the Early 17th Century
    Thanks to a collaboration between Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552 - 1610) and Chinese literatus Xu Guangqi (1562 - 1633), the first Chinese translation of the Elements was published in 1607. On the basis, mainly, of the first six books of Christoph Clavius’s (1538 - 1612) Euclidis Elementorum liber XV (1574), Ricci and Xu not only translated definitions, postulates, axioms, and propositions, but they also frequently translated passages of Clavius’ commentary on them. Therefore, a considerable quantity of explanations and criticisms of Clavius as well as notes that he collected from previous commentators were introduced along with the Greek text of the classic. Further material, including quotations from ancient Chinese works, and Ricci and Xu’s reflections were also inserted. On the other hand, the translation embodied strong uniformity with respect to the form, which Ricci pointed as “system and order” (guimo cidi 規摹次第). According to the arrangement of those books in Clavius’s Euclid, the Chinese text was organized into six chapters (juan 卷), and the definitions of each book (as well as, for Book I, the postulates and the axioms) were set as a separated part: the Beginning (shou 首) of the corresponding chapter. On the basis of the formal division of a proposition described by Proclus, which Clavius followed, Ricci and Xu reformulated the structure of propositions. The enunciation was naturally placed at the very beginning of a proposition. In the following paragraph, for theorems, setting-out and definition of goal were combined into a division designated as ‘exposition’ (jie 解); for problems, the two parts were incorporated into the division ‘method’ (fa 法) which mainly corresponded to construction. Another division ‘argument’ (lun 論) contains the proof with the related construction. From a formal viewpoint, the indentation of the paragraphs starting with the terms ‘exposition’, ‘method’, ‘argument’ also differs from that of the enunciation paragraph. In addition, Ricci and Xu also classified the material that they selected and appended to the main part into divisions to which they attached various designations and for which they adopted distinctive indentations. As a result, the translation was further systematized and standardized, thereby being involved in a process of classic-formation.


June 2nd

:: Lecture notes

  • Sara Confalonieri (Université de Paris, HPS, SPHere)
    Sur les cours de Fourier à l’École Polytechnique
    Joseph Fourier enseigna à plusieurs reprises les mathématiques à l’Ecole Polytechnique (1795-1798 et 1802). Cet exposé vise notamment à reparcourir l’évolution des recherches de Fourier sur sa généralisation de la règle de signes de Descartes (résultat qui portera après le nom de théorème de Budan-Fourier) à travers les transcription de ces cours prises par des étudiants et les fragments qui nous restent parmi les œuvres de Fourier.
  • Wang Xiaofei (Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, Pékin)
    Les cours sur le calcul différentiel de Joseph Fourier
    Le but de mon exposé est de clarifier les rapports entre trois différents manuscrits de notes de cours prises par des étudiants. En relation avec ces manuscrits on trouve deux cours différents de Fourier sur le calcul différentiel. Dans l’exposé, je vais traiter du public et des dates des cours. Je vais aussi analyser la méthode de calcul différentiel proposée par Fourier.
  • Organisation for next year







VENUE



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