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Making Evidence and Crafting Gravitational Knowledge in the Early Modern World

Leverhulme Global History of Science Workshop

Generously funded by the Leverhulme Trust, “Making Evidence and Crafting Gravitational Knowledge in the Early Modern World”, to be held at the University of Warwick, 6th July 2023. 【in person only

Organisers: Xiaona Wang, Sergio Orozco-Echeverri, Michael Bycroft

Speakers (Alphabet Order): Michael BycroftLink opens in a new window (Warwick), Matteo CosciLink opens in a new window (Venice), Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh (Cambridge), Helbert Velilla Jiménez (ENS Paris-PSL), David McOmishLink opens in a new window (Venice), Sergio Orozco-Echeverri (Antioquia), Christoph Sander (Linda Hall Library), Kevin Tracey (Maynooth), Xiaona Wang (Warwick).

Any queries:[at]

Location: Room MB0.08, Statistics Building, University of Warwick,CV4 7ALTime: 9:30 -17:00, 6th July 2023

Registration form HERE

Deadline for registration, 12:00 Noon on Thurs 29th June 2023


9.30—9.45am: Welcome and Introduction to Workshop (Xiaona Wang/ Sergio Orozco-Echeverri)

9.45am—11.00am: Aristotelianism, Pedagogy, and Renaissance Cosmos

· David McOmish (Venice): Infinite Possibilities and Astronomical Hypotheses: The Surprising Conjectures of Ramus Professors of Mathematics on Post-Aristotelian Motion and Force

· Matteo Cosci (Venice): Paduan Aristotelianism and the Quaestio de motu gravium et levium

11.00am11.30am: Coffee

11.30am—12.45pm: Brushing Astronomical and cosmological evidence in the Eurasian Canvas

· Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh (Cambridge): Astronomy as History and History as Astronomy: The Costard-Gaubil Controversy

· Xiaona Wang (Warwick): Evidence Making, Jesuit Missionaries, and Debates on a Spherical Earth in Early Modern China

12.45pm—1.45pm: Lunch

1.45pm—3.00pm: Between Abstract Thinking and Instrumental Practicing

· Christoph Sander (MPIWG/Linda Hall): Pumping Iron: Quantifying Magnetic Force in Early Modern Science.

· Kevin Tracey (Maynooth): ‘Knowing’ and ‘Doing’ in Early Seventeenth Century England: Thomas Blundeville’s Instruments in Print and Practice.

3.00pm3.30pm: Coffee

3.30pm—4.45pm: Mathematics, Empire, and the Spanish-Iberian World

· Helbert Velilla Jiménez (ENS Paris-PSL): Making Mathematical Certainty to Solve the Magnetic Variation in Long-distance Oceanic Voyages of the Spanish Empire.

· Sergio Orozco-Echeverri (Antioquia): On the Place and Dignity of Earth: Reasoning on Gravity in Early Modern Spanish-American Contexts

4.45pm—5.00pm: Concluding Remarks: Michael Bycroft (Warwick)

The Rationale of the Workshop:

Evidence-making is one of the most pervasive and fundamental intellectual and social activities in a variety of domains during the early modern period in such fields as medicine, pedagogy, politics, jurisprudence, and in particular, natural science. This workshop examines various aspects of evidence-making and their role in the shaping of knowledge of gravity and gravitation in the early modern world.

The workshop will also compare evidence-making by difference kinds of audience/readership, explore the role of institutional power in organising evidence to test theories, and probe deeper into the relationship between evidence-making and other forms of historical inquiry such as proof, persuasion, observation, wonder, creativity and ingenuity, objectivity, fact, authorship, probability, and so on.

Here ‘knowledge of gravity and gravitation’ is used in the broadest sense, ‘from falling bodies to orbiting planets.’ This includes a variety of cosmological ideas, such as microcosm/macrocosm, attractio and tractio Terrae, sympathy and antipathy, the science of weight (gravitas) and motion or terrestrial ‘free fall’, Keplerian astronomy, Cartesian cosmology, pervasive virtue and force, universal gravitation, etc. The scope of our scrutiny is not only Western European contexts; it also includes other parts of the early modern world where knowledge of nature was produced and circulated, such as East Asia and the Americas.