GDSS1955 Rejected "Knowledge": Learning about Things Most People Have Stopped Caring About (IGE) (3 units)
- Medium of Instruction:
This course aims to introduce students to the variety of ways that humans have strived to achieve accurate understanding of nature throughout history, by examining the common ground between traditional knowledge and the modern scientific practices which evolved from them.
Demonstrations will be based on the example of Chinese shushu (‘techniques and calculations’), a broad range of divination-related disciplines based on the observation of pre-defined signs and on calculations pertaining to time reckoning. While their application usually results in prognostication, some basic methods of shushu have been adopted as is by modern science.
To shed light on the process leading to a rigorous investigation of nature, examples from the history of science in Europe, such as the gradually autonomous evolution of astronomy out of astrology, will be presented as points of comparison.
The course will also show that divinatory and magical practices have not disappeared from contemporary societies, and will explore possible explanations for the coexistence of traditional methods with widely accepted scientific approaches.
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