St. John’s College Presents
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St. John’s College presents “Mastery of Nature in Descartes’ Discourse on Method,” a lecture by St. John’s tutor Topi Heikkero, on Friday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m., in the Great Hall at the Peterson Student Center.
René Descartes’ Discourse on Method (1637) prefaces three of its author’s scientific studies (Dioptrics, Geometry, and Meteorology). These studies present and make use of the novel analytic mathematical and scientific methods Descartes created. Yet the Discourse is strikingly self-described as “a history, or if you prefer, a fable.” Why do revolutionary mathematics and science need to be introduced by a narrative that admittedly verges on fiction? Furthermore, in the sixth part of the Discourse Descartes articulates the promise that his new scientific ideas can enable a practical philosophy in terms of making the human beings “the masters and possessors of nature.” In this lecture, Mr. Heikkero offers a reading of this promise in its context of the Discourse, Descartes’ scientific project, and his interactions with his peers and surroundings. How does Descartes weave fiction and exact quantitative inquiry together so that they result in a project of mastering nature—the power of which we have witnessed?
Mr. Heikkero holds a M.Th. in theological ethics and philosophy of religion from the University of Helsinki; an M.A. in theoretical philosophy from University of Helsinki,; and a Ph.D. in social ethics from the University of Helsinki. He was a researcher at the Center for Social Ethics, University of Helsinki, 2002–2007, a visiting scholar at Colorado School of Mines, 2003–2004, and a lecturer in ethics in the Department of Systematic Theology at the University of Helsinki prior to coming to St. John’s College, Santa Fe, in 2008. Mr. Heikkero is the author of Ethics in Technology: A Philosophical Study (Lexington Books, 2012).