3rd Bucharest Colloquium in Early Modern Science

Creative experiments:

Heuristic and Exploratory Experimentation in Early Modern Science

24-25 March 2012

Faculty of Philosophy

University of Bucharest


Center for the Logic, History and Philosophy of Science – Faculty of Philosophy University of Bucharest

Research Center for the Foundations of Modern Thought – University of Bucharest


Convenor: Dana Jalobeanu


Faculty of Philosophy

Splaiul Independentei 204



This third edition of the Bucharest colloquium in early modern science is organized as an event of the grant PN-II-ID-PCE-2011-3-0719: From natural history to science: the emergence of experimental philosophy

The past decade has seen a renewed interest in early modern experimentation. In particular, in its cognitive, psychological and social facets, as well as the complex interrelations between epistemic categories like experience, observation and experiment. Meanwhile, comparatively little has been done towards providing a more detailed, contextual and specific study of what might be described, a bit anachronistically, as the methodology of early modern experimentation. This ‘methodology’ comprises the ways in which philosophers, naturalists, promoters of mixed mathematics and artisans put experiments together, and the ways in which they reflected on the capacity of experiments to extend, refine and test hypotheses, on the limits of experimental activity, and on the heuristic power of experimentation.

So far, the sustained interest in the role played by experiments in early modern science has usually centered on ‘evidence’-related problems. This line of investigation favors examination of the experimental results but neglected the ‘methodology’ that brought about the results in the first place. It also neglects the creative and exploratory roles that experiments could and did play in the works of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century explorers of nature.


This colloquium aims to investigate particular cases of early modern experiments or early modern discussions of experimental methodology. We aim to put together a selection of interesting and perhaps relevant case studies that might lead to an innovative and fruitful line of research, namely the investigation of the heuristic, analogical and creative role of early modern experiments.


The intention of the organizers is to publish some or all the papers presented at the colloquium as a special issue of the Journal of Early Modern Studies. In view of this, the participants are kindly asked to circulate their papers 1 week before the beginning of the workshop.


Invited speakers:

  1.      Dan Garber (Princeton University), Glanvill, More, and the ghosts of Humanism in the Royal Society
  2.      Stephen Clucas (Birbeck College, University of London), Experientia literata and the experimental scrupulosity of Thomas Harriot
  3.     Christoph Lüthy (Radboud University, Leyden), The hopes of seventeenth-century microscopists (and their apparent twentieth-century validation)
  4. Cesare Pastorino (University of Sussex), Francis Bacon and the shape of Experientia Literata”: the role of technical inventions
  5. Epaminondas Vampoulis (University of Thessaloniki), Seventeenth-century experiments concerning the nature of matter
  6. Sorana Corneanu (University of Bucharest), “Much experience of Fact, and much evidence of Truth”: John Hartcliffe, Thomas Sprat, and the transformation of the intellectual virtues in an experimental context
  7. Sebastian Mateiescu (New Europe College and University of Bucharest), Philip Melanchthon and the doctrine of ‘universal experimentation’
  8. Ian Stewart (University of King’s College, Halifax), Bacon’s assessment of William Gilbert on experiment: theoria and praxis
  9. Maarten van Dyck (University of Ghent), Galileo’s use of experimentation and the limits of nature
  10. Martine Pecharman (Maison Francaise, Oxford), From “New experiments” to “Great Experiment”: Blaise Pascal on the epistemology of physics”
  11. Vlad Alexandrescu (University of Bucharest), De l’usage de l’infini chez R. Descartes et J.B. Morin
  12. Doina Cristina Rusu (University of Bucharest, Radboud University, Nijmegen) Types of experiments and their function in Bacon’s “Sylva Sylvarum”
  13. Madalina Giurgea (University of Bucharest, University of Ghent), How instruments of measurement work epistemologically? Issac Beeckman’s study of impact
  14. Mihnea Dobre (University of Bucharest), Experimental physics in Cartesian natural philosophy
  15. Laura Georgescu (University of Bucharest), Same experiment, different uses: Norman’s “The New Attractive” and Gilbert’s “De magnete”
  16. Robert Lazu (New Europe College, Bucharest), Descartes, the Turing test and the change of attitudes towards automatons
  17. Grigore Vida (New Europe College, Bucharest)
  18. Dana Jalobeanu (University of Bucharest)