2006-2007 Previous Lectures

Fall 2006

The Fall 2006 lecture in this series was given by Professor Lorraine Daston, of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, on October 2, 2006.

Winter 2007

The 2007 Winter term lectures in this series was given by Professor Adrian Johns (University of Chicago), and Professor Alison Winter (University of Chicago), the week of April 16, 2007. Both lectures were held in Moyse Hall (Arts Building).

Winter 2007

April

Date: Monday, April 16, 2007, 6 p.m.

Speakers: Adrian Johns, University of Chicago

Location: Moyse Hall Arts Building, 853 Sherbrooke St. W.

Title: The Open-Source Campaign in Victorian England

 

Date: Wednesday, April 18, 2007, 6 p.m.

Speakers: Alison Winter, University of Chicago

Location: Moyse Hall Arts Building, 853 Sherbrooke St. W.

Title: Recordings in the Brain: Wilder Penfield and the Sciences of Remembering in the mid-Twentieth Century

Fall 2006

October

Date: Monday, October 2, 2006, 6 p.m.

Speaker: Lorraine Daston, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

Location: Redpath Hall, 3461 McTavish St. (entrance by McTavish Gates & Library Terrace)

Title: Truth, Objectivity, and the History of the Scientific Self

Abstracts

Truth, Objectivity, and the History of the Scientific Self
Lorraine Daston

In the middle decades of the nineteenth century, a new epistemic virtue emerged alongside older ones such as truth and certainty: objectivity. It was not just an addition to the scientific catechism; it was also a set of concrete practices about how to make images, analyze data, and evaluate hypotheses. In some cases, these practices harmonized with those associated with other epistemic virtues such as truth, but in others they collided, forcing scientists to choose between drawings and photographs, judgment and statistics, belief and doubt. The practices of truth and objectivity were intimately intertwined with distinctive scientific personae; to serve one or the other was to cultivate a certain kind of self. The history of the scientific self in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries shows how epistemology and morality interlock.

The Open-Source Campaign in Victorian England
Adrian Johns

We are all familiar with the loud and bitter conflicts over intellectual property that command attention in the realms of digital media and biotechnology. Because these are proclaimed to be revolutionary fields, we often assume that the conflicts themselves are unprecedented. But in fact the strongest challenge ever mounted to intellectual property took place not in our own time, but in that of the Victorians. At a pivotal moment in modern history, a group of British scientists and industrialists attempted to overthrow the entire patents system. In effect, they wanted to stifle the very concept of intellectual property as it came into being. Rival conceptions of science, industry, and imperialism were at stake in deciding the outcome of the radical challenge they mounted. And although it ultimately failed, it left behind it the principles of intellectual property that have continued to prevail until our own day. In restoring to view this forgotten contest, we can therefore begin to understand why our own debates take the form that they do, and why they are so violent.

Recordings in the Brain: Wilder Penfield and the Sciences of Remembering in the mid-Twentieth Century
Alison Winter

This paper examines a radical and highly influential account of memory by the neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield. Penfield, who is now regarded as one of the fathers of modern neurosurgery, is particularly known for surgical procedures that left patients conscious, treated with only a local anesthetic. During some of these operations, patients whose hippocampus was stimulated by an electric probe described experiencing events from the past -- events that were being experienced in real time in the operating theater, as if they were happening again in the present. These psychical phenomena eventually led him to a radical claim about the nature of memory:
that the brain constructs a perfect record of original experience and stores it, moment by moment, in adjacent cells. The "stream" of consciousness was to be regarded as being akin to the celluloid strip of a motion picture film, where every frame is stored forever and available for replay. The lecture will examine the great impact that these claims had on beliefs about memory in the 1950s-1970s, in popular culture and in the work of professional communities whose business involved the exploration of autobiographical memory, such as psychotherapists and forensic psychologists.



Truth, objectivity, and
the history of the scientific self

 

image for link to Daston video

Professor Lorraine Daston
Max Planck Institute for the Philosophy of Science
Presented October 2, 2006. 1 hour 32 minutes.