Science & the Deep Past

March 18, 2019 - March 21, 2019
Department of Philosophy, University of Tartu

Jakobi 2; Vanemuise 46
Tartu 50090

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


  • European Regional Development Fund, University of Tartu ASTRA Project PER ASPERA


Cambridge University


University of Tartu

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The workshop is based on Adrian Currie's book Rock, Bone and Ruin: An Optimist’s Guide to the Historical Sciences (MIT Press 2018) that participants must read through before the workshop.

Target group: students and young scholars of philosophy and natural sciences (incl archaeology)
Credit points and assessment (optional): 3 ECTS, graded

A limited number of travel bursaries is available for foreign participants.

The deep past is a surprising place. Enormous glaciers cover the globe, alien creatures roam, and unique cultural traditions thrive. Palaeontologists, geologists and archaeologists (as well as cosmologists, evolutionary biologists and others) attempt to uncover and understand the deep past: events occurring thousands, millions or even billions of years ago. Such a task is challenging: the remnants of the deep past are often scattered and incomplete and the idiosyncrasy and scale of such events stymies experimentation. On the face of it the gold standards of science, good, repeatable data generated through experimental intervention is denied to us. Yet, our knowledge of the deep past progresses at pace: becoming richer, more sophisticated. What explains the success of these sciences in the face of such challenges? Is there anything distinctive about historical sciences compared to other sciences? What do such sciences teach us about the nature of history? Are there lessons to be drawn about knowledge generally from our knowledge of the past?

The course consists of lectures and seminars, and includes practical work and visit to a local museum.

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December 10, 2018, 6:45pm +03:00

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Custom tags:

#philosophy of historical sciences, #practice-based philosophy of science