Actualités | 2015

Gianna Pomata. Epistemic Genres : Tools for the Cultural History of Knowledge

Lundi 16 février de 14h-16h, Les Rencontres du Gehm en collaboration avec le Centre Alexandre Koyré

In this lecture, I will discuss the notion of “epistemic genre” and its use for the history of knowledge. While “styles of knowing” have been widely debated by historians and philosophers of science, less attention has been paid to the genres of scientific texts. I propose to call "epistemic" that class of genres which develop in tandem with scientific or cognitive practices -just to give a few examples: the treatise, the lecture, the commentary, the encyclopedia, the textbook, the aphorism, the essay, the medical recipe, the case history, etc. I will argue that the notion of genre has a cognitive, and not only literary, dimension. I will also argue that a focus on epistemic genres can be very useful for the cultural history of science, especially in a long-term and cross-cultural, comparative dimension. I will examine in particular three of the benefits that a focus on epistemic genres may bring to the cultural (and cross-cultural) history of knowledge: a) A better awareness of the long duration in the history of cognitive practices. b) A rapprochement of the social history of practices and the intellectual history of concepts, both indispensable to our historical understanding of knowledge and science, but all too often cultivated as separate enterprises.c) A new perspective from which to examine the issue of inertia versus innovation -a key issue in the history of scientific traditions.



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