Verbal and Visual Regimes of Aesthetic Experience in the Royal Society of London, 1650-1720

Research Seminar

  • Online event via Zoom
  • Datum: 04.11.2020
  • Uhrzeit: 15:00 - 17:00
  • Vortragender: Alexander Wragge-Morley
  • Ort: Online via zoom
  • Gastgeber: Bibliotheca Hertziana - Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte
  • Kontakt:
Verbal and Visual Regimes of Aesthetic Experience in the Royal Society of London, 1650-1720
During the second half of the 17th century, the natural philosophers associated with the Royal Society of London increasingly embraced empiricism, identifying sensory experience as the foundation for knowledge of nature. They did not, however, make this choice in the naive belief that the senses give us reliable insights into the world around us, or even that nature contains meanings to which the human mind has access. Like recent theorists of the relationship between humans and nature, therefore, the scientists of 17th-century England were alive to the possibility that our perceptions of nature might not bear much of a resemblance to nature as it exists for itself.

In this talk, I will explore the strategies used by naturalists of the 17th-century - most notably the naturalist John Ray (1627-1705) - to represent the results of sensory inquiries into natural phenomena. Far from simply seeking to represent the world as they saw it, they exploited the lack of resemblance between sensory experience and its objects to pursue a surprising approach to scientific representation. Aware that they could not depict the world as it really was, they sought instead to communicate knowledge by giving readers powerful affective connections to the natural things around them.

Alexander Wragge-Morley is Lecturer in the History of Science and Medicine at the University of Lancaster, UK. Earlier this year, he published his first book, Aesthetic Science: Representing Nature in the Royal Society of London, 1650-1720, with the University of Chicago Press.

Online participation possible via zoom. Please register following THIS LINK.

Scientific Organization: Sietske Fransen and Pamela Mackenzie

IMAGE: Papaver, De historia stirpium commentarii insignes, Leonhart Fuchs, woodcut: Albrecht Meyer, Heinrich Füllmaurer, Vitus Rudolph Speckle, Basel, 1542

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