The Forgotten Giants: Overlooked Scientific Revolutions in Natural Philosophy
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Although it is tempting to follow in Kuhn’s footsteps and regard the history of natural philosophy as a series of revolutions led by giant figures – theoretical watersheds standing out from the landscape of the normal course of events – an accurate picture seems to be more complex and nuanced. Not every breakthrough contribution is immediately noticed as such, and not always is its field favourably disposed towards revolutionary change. Thus, some revolutions remained invisible in the shadow cast by a dominating paradigm or influential rival approach, to be rediscovered only after the theoretical potential of those has been fully exploited. Some other approaches were overlooked because of their philosophical affiliations, historical-cultural background, socio-religious or political context, or peculiarities of notation and terminology. Finally, some innovations were quickly intercepted and developed by mightier competitors.
It is precisely this topic that the second edition of The Forgotten Giants Conference is about. While our main focus is on overlooked, forgotten, and unnoticed theories, we welcome all contributions concerning the issue of revolution throughout the history of science and natural philosophy at all periods of time.
However, we are also interested in the problem of revolutionary change itself. What are the conditions that need to be satisfied in order that the theory could become a landmark in its field? What attributes are necessary to attract sufficient attention? What are the biggest obstacles in its path? Finally, how can we distinguish a truly revolutionary idea from one merely eccentric? Could progress be achieved through revolution alone? And does thinking out of the box, apart from the prevailing theoretical framework, always pay off?