Seeing Things: Common Sense and Illusory Practice in 19th-Century Science
Sep 11, 2012, 12:30pm-2:30pm
The Science & Technology Studies Seminar Series will present a talk by Professor Iwan Rhys Morus of the Department of History & Welsh History at Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom.
"As far as many 19th century natural philosophers were concerned, vision was central to the practical performance of science. Seeing was the paradigm of knowing. As the Scottish common sense philosopher Thomas Reid expressed it, the 'evidence of reason is called seeing, not feeling, smelling, or tasting.' In many ways, therefore, understanding the processes of vision was taken to be tantamount to understanding the process of knowledge production," says Morus.
"In this paper I want to try and embed 19th century philosophical discussions of the problematics of vision in the culture of scientiLic performance. I want to focus in particular on the production of scientiLic illusions as exercises in the demonstration of the limits of unmediated observation. Looking at David Brewster's invention of the kaleidoscope in particular, I also want to suggest some homologies between Brewster's visual project and wider political concerns about bodies and knowledge during the nineteenth century."
Morus is a historian of 19th century medicine, science, technology and popular culture and is the author of Shocking Bodies (History Press, 2011), When Physics became King (Chicago University Press, 2005) and Frankenstein's Children (Princeton University Press, 1998). Morus is currently working on the history of "performances" and optical illusions in the 19th century. In addition, Morus is the editor of History of Science, the project director for the "Memory and Media in Wales" JISC‐funded research project and a senior collaborator on the John Tyndall Correspondence Project at Montana State University.
|Location:||203A Bethune College|
|Sponsor:||Science & Technology Studies Seminar Series|
|Posted by:||Nanna K.L. Kaalund|