Striving for Knowledge in Western History of Science and Medicine

History 103S.002

Fall 2014
Section: 
002
Instructor: 
Location: 
3104 DWINELLE
Day & Time: 
F 12-2P
CCN: 
39465
Units: 
4
The seminar will examine issues of knowledge, evidence, and scientific methodology in the history of science and medicine. Though the time period ranges from Antiquity to the early 20th century the seminar will largely focus on Western developments in the 18th and 19th centuries, including some colonialist contexts. We will explore issues of curiosity and philosophical inquiry in Antiquity, scholastic logic in the middle ages, efforts to systematize and classify nature in the colonialist 18th century, and the rise of experimental science in the 19th century, particularly in medicine. We will probe questions such as:   Is there a superior way of knowing nature-- by pure reason, by field observation, by artificial experiment, by modeling, or by some combination of these? What may constitute as evidence? What is the relationship between science and religion as ways of knowing the world? What is the proper role of pre-existing authority in constructing our own knowledge? Can we obtain objective knowledge or is all knowledge inevitably subjective and biased?