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Call for Papers: From Quadrivium to Natural Sciences: New Impulses in the Traditional Framework (deadline – 3rd September)


VIVARIUM – Centre for Research in Medieval Society and Culture, University of Ostrava
Department of Philosophy, University of Ostrava
Department of Philosophy, Palacký University Olomouc

Call for Papers:
From Quadrivium to Natural Sciences: New Impulses in the Traditional Framework

Ostrava, 15th – 16th November 2018

The conference aims to provide an opportunity to discuss research and share ideas among the philosophers and historians of science concerning the inquiry into nature, which was primarily represented by qua drivial disciplines and medicine during the early Middle Ages and further developed in reaction to emerging translations of Greek and Arabic texts on nature. The stress is put on the transformations in time, crossing the boundaries, and progressive introduction of “otherness” into the traditional conceptions. Participants are encouraged to focus on various fields which formed quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy) and on other disciplines devoted to the study of nature (medicine, optics, meteorology, timekeeping, alchemy, etc.). We welcome submissions focusing on issues discussed since the 10th century and following continuities (or discontinuities) up to the 17th century.

Proposed framework offers range of intertwining topics, which may include:
• Variable position of quadrivial disciplines through the centuries or an original utilization of specific discipline by individual scholars.
• Revisiting the traditional narrative inherent to the intellectual history of medieval philosophy and modern science (e.g. “scientific revolution of the 17th century”).
• Procedural inclusion of otherness: The emergence of new texts and translations, which provided
new impulses for further inquiries into nature, or the influence of scientific and academic
pursuits on lives outside of universities and vice versa.
• Diverse motivations (theoretical and practical) behind the pursuit of knowledge concerning the
nature. Observing vs. conquering nature. Realism vs. instrumentalism, ontological commitments
of scientific theories. Did premodern scholars perceived their theories as descriptions of reality
or practical models (e.g. epicycles and eccentrics).
• The wisdom of quadrivial disciplines or natural sciences and the wisdom of philosophy.
• Status of quadrivial disciplines relative to other intellectual pursuits (e.g. trivium, natural sciences, theology, mysticism, etc.) and shifting boundaries of the fields in question (e.g. the use of arithmetic in mechanics or pharmacology, geometry in astronomy or optics, or the status of
the so-called scientiae mediae in general).
• The place and importance of natural science or quadrivium in the hierarchy of knowledge and
philosophy. Encyclopaedism: the struggle for the completeness of knowledge. The changes in
the classification of knowledge. How many liberal arts are there? New approaches to classification based on new translations of Arabic and Greek texts in the high Middle Ages and
• The methods of scientific approach: observation and experience, deductive reasoning, intuition,
mysticism or the role of experiment during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in scientific as
well as philosophical endeavours.

Confirmed speakers:
Jari Kaukua (University of Jyväskylä)
Marco Sgarbi (University of Venice)
Ovanes Akopyan (University of Innsbruck)

The conference takes place from 15th to 16th November 2018 in
Ostrava, Czech Republic (at the Faculty of Arts, Reální 5, Ostrava). The conference language
is English (one section in Czech). The scheduled length of presentations is 25 minutes (plus
approximately 10 minutes for discussion). The selected papers will be published in the form of collective monography or special issue of specialized journal.

To submit, please e-mail the title and the abstract (in the length of approximately 200 words) of the paper to David Černín ( The deadline for abstract submission is 3rd September 2018.

The programme of the conference will be ready by the 1st of October.
The conference is held under the auspices of the project The Construction of the Other in Medieval Europe (IRP University of Ostrava).

Steering committee:
David Černín (, University of Ostrava
Lukáš Lička (, University of Ostrava; Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences
Tomáš Nejeschleba (, Palacký University Olomouc
Marek Otisk (, University of Ostrava; Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy
of Science



Místo konání

Faculty of Arts
Reální 5
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