Science, fables and chimera

The conference season begins. My first stop this year is Toulouse, and a history of science/cultural history conference entitled “Science, fables et chimères: croissements” / “Science, fables and chimera: a strange encounter”.

A description is available from the conference website:

“The history of science provides numerous examples of the way in which imagination, religion and mythology have sometimes helped, sometimes hindered scientific progress. While established ideas and beliefs clearly held back the discoveries of Copernicus, Galileo and Darwin, the implicit knowledge to be found in mythology, art and religion has often proved useful in indicating new ways in which to explore or represent new knowledge of the world. Stories, fables and images have often proved very useful in drawing a fuller picture of the past, understanding the present or imagining the future.

The aim of this conference is to question the rigidity of disciplinary boundaries and to show the dialogue between science and the humanities through specific examples or more general thematic analyses. Papers might consider the role of imagination in science in a given discipline, or address a particular notion at a specific period.”

My own paper will go rather in the direction of the last type. I will be talking about the concept of “emergence“, which has garnered some attention in discussions in and surrounding the life and mind sciences – especially in the philosophy of science, and particularly the philosophy of biology and philosophy of mind. I will look at the formation of so-called British emergentism in the 1920s, and discuss its strong connection at that time with theological concerns, particularly in the work of philosopher Samuel Alexander. I will furthermore connect this to the “problem of disenchantment” in the special sciences, which has recently been mentioned on this blog.

An overview of the program, as well as a detailed list of speakers with abstracts are available from the site. The conference is going to take two days, from Friday 10 to Saturday 11 of June. In other words, it starts early tomorrow morning.

Which means I have a plane to catch.

Creative Commons License
This blog post by Egil Asprem was first published on Heterodoxology. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Published in: on June 9, 2011 at 6:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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