UniBg - Material Culture, Science and Technology : Introduction

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CCSE - CISAlpino Institute for Comparative Studies in Europe

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Material Culture, Science and Technology

Agreement for Cultural and Scientific Cooperation between

UniversitÓ degli Studi di Bergamo (Bergamo, Italy)
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin, Germany)

The acquired knowledge that the instruments have always been the material witnesses of developments in science, mingling specific and diversified forms of knowledge in recent decades has produced major studies that re-evaluate the material culture, the arts, mechanical and manual labour. Especially for the period from the Renaissance to the so-called scientific revolution, there is now extensive research showing how crucial the knowledge of both material culture and technology is to understand the birth of modern science. The great technological revolutions of the twentieth century and the possibilities that they open up remain to be investigated, as well as the problems that confront us. In this regard, it should not be overlooked that in many areas of our country, and especially in Bergamo, the relationship between scientific and material culture (understood as a highly specialized manual labour) has enabled many companies to be leaders in the international market, thus making practical and profitable this relationship between scientific culture and material culture that should be better valued.

Scientific culture should not therefore be opposed to material culture, but it must rather study their connections, to bring about more awareness of the two sides of these bonds that are still not disclosed.

It is necessary to identify, in the development of material culture and technical knowledge, the possible consequences of the new science, some of which is already in place. Also because the relationship, more and more narrow, between science and technology makes compelling a critical reflection of ethical character, because science, beyond the proclamations, does not qualify at all itself as a mere disinterested contemplation, but it has effects on nature that are not ethically neutral, nor from the point of view of socio-economic and political relations between human beings, nor from that of the relations between human beings and other living beings.

We must strive to understand the possible deviations of the privatization of research, related to the economic interests of multinational corporations, most notably that of the non-sharing of scientific results and their use; we must point out the limits of so-called "freedom of research", and not only in biological- medical field, as shown by the discussion on the production of quark-gluon plasma in accelerators, which could have destructive consequences for the planet.

To these problems is related the proper scientific education of citizens who should be called upon to make informed decisions on research policy, as well as that of its supranational management, since the overall impact that can have (think of nuclear power plants).

Our society and our Western ways of life are dominated by technology, but are not determined solely by material culture. The distinction between structure and ideological superstructure does not represent the complexity of the situation, as the scientific culture comes into play, at the planning level and the direct level too, in the real economy of our society. This inseparable bond between material culture, technical and scientific culture must therefore be studied not only from the perspective of the history of science or epistemology, but also in its anthropological, sociological, legal, economic, engineering, industry aspects, as well as ethical, philosophical, psychological, educational ones.

The research project aims to focus on some particular technological developments related to the most relevant techno-scientific, Twentieth Century and contemporary instruments, both historically and in the current technology research.

Director: JŘrgen Renn
Principal Investigators: Enrico Giannetto and Franco Giudice
Connection Responsible: Giulia Giannini

International Workshop - "The Epistemic Functions of Vision in Science"10/10/2018
Joint Seminar - Matteo Valleriani (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin), "La funzione epistemologica delle immagini scientifiche"24/01/2018
Joint Seminar - Mario Castellana (UniversitÓ del Salento), "Max Planck, Autobiografia scientifica"23/11/2017
Joint Seminar - Felicity Henderson (University of Exeter, UK), "Robert Hooke's Diary as Evidence"14/09/2017
Joint Seminar - Robert Iliffe (University of Oxford), "Science and the 'rational religion' of Isaac Newton"26/05/2017
Students Seminar - "Material Culture, Science and Technology", Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin), April 5-6, 201705/04/2017
International Workshop - "Shedding Light on Light"17/12/2015
Joint Seminar - Pietro Corsi (University of Oxford), "Evoluzione e societÓ prima di Darwin"28/04/2015