Science and Art in Historical Perspective: Lessons from the Past. Initiatives for the Future

By Javier Moscoso.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Departing from Nietzsche’s considerations on the relationship between the unwillingness of forgetting and the willingness of memory, this text proposes a new approach to the history and philosophy of sciences through the re-interpretation of the historical relation between sciences and arts. It first examines the emergence of visual studies as a discipline intended to study the impact of new forms of visualization and expression in cultural processes. Then, it advocates a new writing of the history the science studies from the recent developments in the so-called “historical epistemology”. Historical epistemology implied shift of focus from scientific theories to epistemic categories, which enabled the analysis of sciences from new historized categories, embedded into cultural niches. This viewpoint is similar to those developed in visual culture studies and the structuralism of the 1970s. In this line, pioneering centres such as the Max Planck Institute in Berlin have already incorporated artists to their scientific community. Therefore, this text claims that, in order to look forward, we should look back at the history of different disciplines. The result of this re-interpretation is a polyphonic history, a hybrid that stands for the necessity of multidisciplinary research.

Keywords: Philosophy, Visual Studies, History of Science, Multidisciplinarity

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.71-78. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 757.175KB).

Javier Moscoso

Institute of Philosophy, Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences, Spanish National Research Council, Spain

Javier Moscoso is Research Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the Institute of Philosophy of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). He has worked extensively on three main areas of interest: the history of the life sciences in the 18th century, the history of signs and singularities in Early Modern Europe and the history of pain in the West from the 15th to the 20th century. Along with several monographs, compilations and publications in scientific journals, he has also paid special attention to what is now called “knowledge transfer” and public engagement. He has been the curator of different exhibitions: on the history of pain, at the Science Museum in London and, more recently, on the cultural history of human skin, at the Wellcome Collection Gallery, in London. His latest book, A Cultural History of Pain, was published in Spain in October 2011. The English version, by Palgrave-Macmillan, will be out in 2012. There are also two forthcoming editions, one in Mexico, and another in Argentina. In Spain, the book has been highly praised by the critics. The Spanish newspaper El Mundo, for example, considered it one of the best ten non-fiction books published in Spain in 2011.