April 4: Faculty Colloquium - Rodolfo Garau on the (early modern-science version of) The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Detail from Giorgio de Chirico's "The Prodigal Son" (1922)

On Wednesday, April 4, 2018 faculty member Rodolfo Garau will give a presentation on "The (early modern-science version of) The Unbearable Lightness of Being" in the frame of the Faculty Colloquium Series.

Do things happen by chance, or is everything ruled by necessity? In his famous 1984 novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera described the inner struggles between perceiving the world as “unbearably light” (that is, dominated by fortuitousness and chance) and — paraphrasing Beethoven’s Destiny Symphony —, as an “es-muss-sein” (that is, dominated by necessity and purposefulness). Interestingly, similarly struggles (though not interior) were encountered by early 20th century physicists (as for instance Erwin Schrödinger) when they claimed that the findings of quantum mechanics contradicted the millenary faith in the necessity of nature. But was this the first time in the history of science that nature was understood as dominated by necessity? Or, does science in general entail a vision of nature as fully necessitated? The book Rodolfo Garau has edited with Pietro D. Omodeo, Contingency and Natural Order in Early Modern Science, problematizes the claim that science is at large constructed upon a vision of the world as dominated by necessity. Rather, the authors argue, such idea emerged, slowly and contradictorily, by an understanding of nature as the “realm of contingency,” which dominated late-Scholastic and Renaissance science at large. In this presentation, Garau will show some relevant findings of their investigation. 

Time: Wednesday, April 4, 2018 from 12.30pm to 1.30pm
Venue: The Cafeteria (Waldstr. 70), Seminar Room upstairs