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"Experimental Reasoning in the Technical Sciences: Influences on the Humanities" ISA Clare Hall lecture by Alessandro Freddi

Prof. Freddi is past Director of ISA and Clare Hall Fellow.

Nov 07, 2017 from 05:30 PM to 07:30 PM

Where Sala Rossa, Palazzo Marchesini, via Marsala 26, Bologna

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Clare Hall is a College for Advanced Study in the University of Cambridge. It is devoted to advanced study and research and has a long-standing association with the Institute of Advanced Studies of the University of Bologna, which manages the Bologna-Clare Hall Visiting Fellowship Scheme.

The first Bologna-Clare Hall Lecture will be delivered by Professor Alessandro Freddi, who has been Scientific Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies and Visiting Fellow (now Life Member) of Clare Hall.


Experimental Reasoning in the Technical Sciences: Influences on the Humanities

The technical sciences, which are typical of Engineering education, can be seen as a closed environment of technicians who transfer information to one another, with the same spirit but with the same limited diffusion as the craftsmen of ancient cathedrals.

However, the technical sciences, which are born from the interaction of the physical sciences and mathematics, but which, above all, are based on the experimental observation of reality and the realization of artefacts, can also be an example for the human sciences. Experimental reasoning is the great cultural paradigm that can be seen as a way of adapting knowledge to the evolution of human needs and to the correction of errors, and can serve as an essential tool for understanding and model reality.

An important point is the role of mathematics. Since the birth of modern science, the hypothesis as well as its experimental proof have a mathematical nature, both being expressed by a set of physical and measurable (not qualitative) quantities. Each stage in the development of the technical sciences is accompanied and supported by math. History shows how geometry has shifted to algebra, to differential calculus, to the use of functions with complex variables, and to probabilistic calculus and statistics.

In my talk I will explore experimental reasoning through some examples of historical cases of technical interest, along the lines indicated above, focusing on how the technical sciences can positively influence knowledge making in the humanities.