Instructors: György Geréby (Office hours TBA)
Karl Hall (Office hours: Mondays 14:30-15:30 and by appointment)
Time: Tuesdays, 10:50-12:30
Location: QS D-212
Course description: The course studies the relationship between science and religion from antiquity through the modern period. Are they incompatible, independent, compatible, or cooperative? How have they come to be seen as metaphysically distinct? We will survey various scholarly theses about this issue and examine the senses in which "science" could encompass the overlapping concerns of theology and natural philosophy in centuries past, and then turn our attention to the ways that science has become a form of knowledge that occasionally challenges religious doctrines. How did individuals of diverse scholarly communities and confessions read and write scientific texts and produce scientific knowledge? What were the specifically disciplinary challenges to religious belief as the concepts and institutions of science expanded? We will investigate these questions primarily with respect to the Western tradition, including the Hellenistic period, Christianity (Catholic, Protestant and eventually Orthodoxy), but with occasional comparisons to Islam.
Course goals: We aim to read and analyze texts that enable us to understand scientific and religious concepts in interaction. In studying the tropes of conflict, mutual isolation, and reconciliation, we will investigate the argumentative and rhetorical strategies of religious and scientific figures, and in the modern period, we will also see how the historical sciences themselves became participants in, and not just chroniclers of, these encounters.
Learning outcomes: Students will gain familiarity with Hellenistic, medieval and modern conceptions of science and religion, with the evolving bounds of knowledge in medieval and modern science, and with the methods, sources, leading figures, and institutional contexts that have informed the science-religion relationship.
Advanced certificates: May be applied to the Religious Studies advanced certificate.
Requirements and assessment: The grade is based on one class presentation [15%], two times serving as discussion leader [10% + 10%], a review essay [50%], and general class participation [15%].
Note on class presentations: For purposes of this course, a presentation is neither a formal mini-lecture nor a PowerPoint slide show, but rather an exercise in accountability. Whereas a discussion leader will only be responsible for assigned texts, the class presentation may require modest additional preparation. Decisions about scope will be determined by student interests in prior consultation with the instructors, but will likely be driven by a given session topic.
Review essay due December 20. Topic should be chosen in consultation with the instructors. Length: 8-9 pages double-spaced.
Regular attendance is mandatory in all classes. A student who misses more than two units (two 100-minute sessions) in any 2 or 4 credit class without a verified reason beyond the student's control must submit an 8-10 page paper assigned by the professor, which as a rule covers the material in the class missed. The paper is due no later than 3 weeks after the missed class.
Assigned reading:[Pseudo?-] Paracelsus, "Concerning certain particular signs of natural and supernatural things," Concerning the Nature of Things (c. 1537), from The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Aureolus Philippus Theophrastus Bombast, of Hohemheim, called Paracelsus, vol. 1, ed. A. E. Waite (1894), 188-194. [This is a brief excerpt, and you need not spend much time puzzling over the substance of it. But for purposes of class discussion, ask yourself why churchmen might be concerned about the way that "signs" function in this work.]
Galileo Galilei, "Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany" (1615)
Maurice A. Finocchiaro, "Science, religion, and the historiography of the Galileo Affair: On the undesirability of oversimplication," Osiris, 2nd Series, 16 (2001): 114-132.
J. J. Bono, The Word of God and the Languages of Man (1995), 193-198.Brian P. Copenhaver, "Natural magic, hermetism, and occultism in early modern science," in Reappraisals of the Scientific Revolution (Cambridge, 1990), 261-301.
Peter Harrison, The Bible, Protestantism and the Rise of Natural Sciences (1998).
Stephen Gaukroger, The Emergence of a Scientific Culture: Science and the Shaping of Modernity 1210-1685 (2006).
Brian P. Copenhaver, Hermetica : the Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a new English translation, with notes and introduction (1992). [available at Medieval Library]
Mario Biagioli, Galileo Courtier: The Practice of Science in the Culture of Absolutism (Chicago, 1993).
J. L. Heilbron, Galileo (Oxford, 2010).
Some of the burgeoning histories of Galileo from the nineteenth century, many of them drawing on the lengthy project to publish his works in their entirety, and via a dialectic of critical and apologetic views, creating our modern image of him as suffering for science:
David Brewster, The Martyrs of Science; or, the Lives of Galileo, Tycho Brahe, and Kepler (1841).
Emil Wohlwill, Der Inquisitionsprocess des Galileo Galilei (1870).
Karl von Gebler, Galileo Galilei und die römische Curie : nach den authentischen Quellen (1876).
Gaston Tissandier, Les Martyrs de la Science (1891 ). (Russian translation)
Alajos Czógler, "Galilei," A fizika története életrajzokban (1882).
József Lukscsics, A Galileo-kérdés (1910).
J. N. Frank, Proces inkwizycyjny Galileusza podług najnowszych badan (1881).
P. A. Forner, Galileo a jeho spor s církví (1910).
V. I. Assonov, Галилей перед судом инквизиции: Очерк его жизни и трудов (1870).
O. Ia. Pergament, Галилео Галилей, его жизнь и научная деятельность (1897).
Е. А. Predtechenskii, Галилей, его жизнь и научная деятельность: Биографический очерк (1892).
(Click on image for larger version.)