University of Cambridge > > CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) seminar > Early modern history of data and epistemology of form

Early modern history of data and epistemology of form

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This talk examines several contexts in which the word ‘data’ entered the English language in the seventeenth century, and how the usage contexts of the term evolved over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A parallel discussion will consider the various forms of evidence privileged within and sometimes across different knowledge domains during the same historical period: Robert Hooke’s illustrations, William Petty’s interpolated figures, Joseph Priestley’s charts, Margaret Cavendish’s narrative structures, Abraham Cowley’s verse, and others. The talk will address the question of why ‘data’ was used to describe some forms of evidence and not others as the concept took on life in early modern Britain, as well as why some forms of evidence carried more epistemological weight than others. This history of ‘data’ and forms of evidence will then (I hope!) provide a useful context for examining various ongoing assumptions about the credibility of some forms of evidence over others.

This talk is part of the CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) seminar series.

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