In recent years, historians of science have increasingly broadened the scope of their research to include the history of different kinds of interconnected knowledge, such as philosophical, scientific, artistic, and artisanal knowledge. This requires a better understanding of the changing historical meanings of certain central concepts like “knowledge”, “science”, and “art” that is currently sorely lacking. This workshop aims to unravel and explicate the development of these shifting historical epistemologies and thus lay the foundations of a history of knowledge concepts. Such a foundation is necessary to overcome anachronistic understandings of disciplinary divisions, to further historical inquiry, and to inform contemporary debates.
Various demarcations can be discerned in the history of knowledge. For example, although there appears to have been a certain hierarchy of theoretical and practical knowledge in all ages and cultures, it seems that since the nineteenth century theoretical knowledge has been valued more highly than practical knowledge in the West. Moreover, the gaps between the various theoretical knowledge domains (Arts, Humanities/Social Sciences, and Natural/Exact Sciences) have widened. Through analyzing the conceptual changes that reflect the genesis of these and other divides and the context in which they appeared, the workshop will enhance our understanding of the formation of the gap that now exists between the humanities and the sciences and inform the discussion about possibilities to bridge that gap. Our findings will be made available to inform the public discussion about possibilities to redefine their relationship.
The chosen format of the workshop, in which discussions are fueled by keynote lectures, excursions, and round tables, will stimulate participants to reflect critically on historical concepts of knowledge in their own field, as well as on the relevance of their historical analysis for contemporary debates. Ample opportunity for informal interaction and discussion in smaller, diachronic and interdisciplinary working groups will also allow participants to develop new collaborations.