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Accueil > Archives > Journées et colloques : septembre 2008–juillet 2012 > Journées d’étude et colloques 2011-2012 > Spaces, Knots and Bonds : At the crossroads between early modern “magic” and “science”


Spaces, Knots and Bonds : At the crossroads between early modern “magic” and “science”

JUIN 21 – 23, 2012

Observatoire de Paris
(21 juin, salle Cassini)

Université Paris Diderot
(22-23 juin, bâtiment Condorcet, salle Luc Valentin 454A, samedi : accès par le 10 rue Alice Domon et Léonie Duquet)

Robert Fludd, Utriusque cosmi

Avec le soutien du Projet PNEUMA : l’espace de l’esprit - ANR-09-SSOC-056,

le laboratoire SPHERE (CNRS, UMR 7219),

le laboratoire SYRTE (CNRS, UMR 8360)

et l’Université Blaise Pascal (Clermont-Ferrand)

Comité scientifique

Philippe Hamou (Université Charles de Gaulle Lille III), Laurent Jaffro (Université Paris I), David Rabouin (SPHERE), Michela Malpangotto (SYRTE)


Jonathan Regier (Université Paris Diderot, SPHERE) and Koen Vermeir (Université Paris Diderot/CNRS, SPHERE)

Vers la présentation



Observatoire de Paris, salle Cassini, 77 av. Denfert-Rochereau, Paris 14e
RER B : stop Port-Royal

13:30 Ouverture/Welcome par Jonathan Regier et Koen Vermeir (Université Paris Diderot, SPHERE)

13:40 Introduction, Projet PNEUMA
par Laurent Jaffro (Université Paris I) et Philippe Hamou (Université
Charles de Gaulle Lille III)

14:00 Cosmological Space : Metaphysics and Theology

Chair : Michela Malpangotto (SYRTE)


Michel Blay (CNRS)

De l’espace de Bruno aux enjeux philosophiques de l’infini au XVIIe siècle

15:15 Pause café


Brian Copenhaver (UCLA)

Vico on God, Space and Air : Not the New Science

Université Paris Diderot, salle 454A Luc Valentin, 4 rue Elsa Morante, Paris 13e
metro line 14 et RER C : stop Bibliothèque François Mitterrand

10:00 – 12:30 Voyages in space

Chair : Philippe Hamou (Université Charles de Gaulle Lille III)

Ofer Gal (University of Sydney)

Two Bohemian Journeys : Motion in New Spaces at the turn of the 17th century

Thibaut Maus de Rolley (Oxford)

Le diable en mouvement : conceptions et représentations de l’espace dans le discours démonologique (XVIe-XVIIe siècles)

12:45 – 13:45 Déjeuner

14:00 – 18:00 How spaces are connected : Space and Causal Schemes

Chair : Claire Schwartz (Université Paris Ouest)


Roger Ariew (University of South Florida)

Leibniz and the Petrifying Virtue of the Place

15:15 Pause café

15:30 – 18:00

Luc Peterschmitt (Projet PNEUMA)

L’organisation circulatoire de l’espace dans la tradition chimique

Hiro Hirai (Radboud University)

Celestial Influences and Cosmic Bonds in Renaissance Embryology after Pico

Université Paris Diderot, bâtiment Condorcet, salle 454A, 10 rue Alice Domon et Léonie Duquet, Paris 13e
metro line 14 et RER C : stop Bibliothèque François Mitterrand

10:00 – 12:30 Mental Spaces

Chair : Roberto Poma

Jonathan Regier (Université Paris Diderot, SPHERE)

Of Sun, Star and Mind : Geometry as Cause and Knowledge in Keplerian Spaces

Delphine Bellis (Ghent University)

La perception mentale de l’espace dans les théories de la vision de Kepler et Descartes

12:45 – 13:45 Déjeuner

14:00 – 18:00 Representing and Structuring Space

Chair : Koen Vermeir (Université Paris Diderot/CNRS, SPHERE)


Vincenzo de Risi (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science)

The Birth of Space in the Renaissance : from Metaphysics to Geometry

15:15 Pause café

15:30 – 18:00

Jean-Marc Besse (CNRS)

Schématisations de l’espace et formes de l’écriture géographique au tournant des XVIe et XVIIe siècles en Europe

Jean Seidengart (Université Paris 10)

La structure de l’espace physique infini dans la cosmologie de Giordano Bruno


Space has always played an important role in the narratives of the Scientific Revolution. The debate between Leibniz and the Newtonians, for instance, is constructed as a foundational moment for modern science. In order to understand what is happening in this period, however, it is important to come to grips with the multifarious conceptions of space developed during the renaissance and the early modern period, not only in scholastic natural philosophy or the ‘new science’, but especially in a diversity of other traditions. Especially after historiographical challenges to distinctions such as ‘magic’ and ‘science’, or ‘occult’ and ‘scientific’, the ideas presented in these traditions as well as their role in the broader historiography of science have to be reassessed. This conference aims at addressing the role of space in medieval, renaissance and early modern heterodox traditions and bringing such an interest into relation with the more canonical figures from the history of science. The conference theme consists of two different parts :

Space, in medieval and the renaissance ‘occult traditions’, is where things are organized. The Aristotelian cosmos already gives to space an almost active role in organization : the four elements have their unique natural places below the sphere of the moon ; the fifth element has its natural place above. The role of space changed, however, whenever aspects of Aristotelian cosmology and physics were rejected, elaborated upon, or modified, and philosophers tried to come to grips with this in different ways. The universe was still thought to operate by patterns present both at small and large scales, but the nature of these operations was open to wide speculation, especially when occult properties were involved. Indeed, distance was usually no hindrance in magic and astrology : it was assumed that reorganization in one part of space could immediately cause another part of space to be reorganized in a like manner. Numerous causal schemes were proposed - e.g., the rays of al-Kindi, the species of Roger Bacon, and the vincula (links) of Giordano Bruno - to explain this hidden connection. As examples of study, we might mention Bruno’s cosmos, which is infinite, locally heliocentric, and flowering with sympathies and antipathies, or the space of Johannes Kepler, which is a milieu of organization par excellence, filled with archetypes and harmony at every level of scale and ontology. Also, the connection between the Cambridge Neo-Platonists and Newton deserves revaluation in the light of the rich diversity of renaissance concepts of space.

In line with what is discussed above, the conference also seeks work on conceptions of social, bodily, imaginative and mnemonic spaces. The renaissance mind did not have anything like our distinction between psychological and material space. How were these spaces distinguished ? What were the objects and forces of these spaces ? The “links” of Giordano Bruno traverse and bind together objects of every possible kind of space : social, imaginative, intellectual and physical. For Al-Kindi, ray-like emanations underlie all cause and effect in the universe, while other thinkers find other means to explain and discuss universal harmony as an organizing principle. Famously, pneuma, or spirit, also connects different kinds of ‘spaces’, internal and external, in sources ranging from occult and neo-stoic authors to Newton’s aether theory. Finally, we would be receptive to presentations focusing on different ways in which astrological and cosmic spaces were seen to be reflected or embodied in architecture, the arts, and in the microcosm of the human body itself.
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