Journal for the History of Knowledge <div class="featured-block">The <em>Journal for the History of Knowledge</em> is an open access, peer-reviewed journal devoted to the history of knowledge in its broadest sense. This includes the study of science, but also of indigenous, artisanal, and other types of knowledge as well as the history of knowledge developed in the humanities and social sciences. Special attention is paid to interactions and processes of demarcation between science and other forms of knowledge. Contributions may deal with the history of concepts of knowledge, the study of knowledge making practices and institutions and sites of knowledge production, adjudication, and legitimation (including universities). Contributions which highlight the relevance of the history of knowledge to current policy concerns (for example, by historicizing and problematizing concepts such as the "knowledge society") are particularly welcome.</div> en-US (Renée Schilling) (Openjournals) Thu, 25 Feb 2021 00:00:00 +0100 OJS 60 Classical Nature: Natural History, Classical Humanism, and the Value of Knowledge in Sweden, 1800–1850 <p>This article investigates a series of attempts to imbue natural history with humanistic values and align its epistemological goals with those of classical studies in Sweden during the first half of the nineteenth century. By tracing the claims made by a group of twenty-one natural scientists, physicians, and state officials as well as others who took up the cause in response to a government proposal for a new school ordinance, this paper demonstrates how natural history became linked to self-cultivation and edification (Bildung, or bildning in Swedish) while the material and practical utility it was once so strongly associated with was downplayed in favor of moral development. It argues that a knowledge regime favoring the humanities in general and classical studies in particular strongly influenced secondary education, leading the group to claim that the study of nature should be treated as part of classical education. Although their argumentation subordinated the natural sciences to the humanities, they and later advocates accepted the new knowledge regime as they were themselves part of an academic culture of classical humanism. The key role that natural history played in this struggle over the educational and social value of different forms of knowledge during this period demonstrates that the history of science can be enriched by including the historical impact of the humanities on the natural sciences.</p> Isak Hammar Copyright (c) 2021 Thu, 25 Feb 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Imagining the Heavens: Adam Elsheimer’s Flight into Egypt and the Renaissance Night Sky <p>Adam Elsheimer’s The Flight into Egypt (1609) has triggered a longstanding debate among art historians. For the last five decades, Elsheimer’s novel naturalistic representation of the night sky in his painting on copper has been linked to Galileo’s telescopic observations. To explain the astronomical details of this painting, scholars have contended that Elsheimer observed, before Galileo, the night sky with one of the first telescopes available in Rome. So far, the debate has lacked input from the history of astral science. This article presents a case study that examines the relationship between the visual arts and astronomical knowledge. It offers a contextualized analysis of the technical details of the artwork within the prevailing astronomical knowledge— before the appearance of Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius—and frames it within the network of and debates among prominent figures of Galileo’s and Elsheimer’s time. It proposes a revisionist interpretation of Elsheimer’s most famous artwork based on an analysis of the technical and cultural practices of discerning and imagining the night sky around 1600.</p> Stefan Zieme Copyright (c) 2021 Mon, 26 Apr 2021 00:00:00 +0200 Producing Knowledge in Early Modern Rome: Concepts and Practices of Disegno in the Accademia di San Luca and the Accademia dei Lincei <p>This article offers new insights into the relationship between science and art in the early modern period by focusing on the concepts and practices of disegno (meaning a physical drawing or a mental design) in two Roman academies around 1600: the Accademia di San Luca and the Accademia dei Lincei. The first president of the Accademia di San Luca, Federico Zuccari, developed an elaborate theory of art that centered on the concept of disegno. More than other contemporary art theorists, Zuccari explicitly connected the process of artistic production to that of knowledge acquisition, and he described his theory of disegno as belonging to natural philosophy. The first part of the article provides a more profound interpretation of the relationship between the theoretical and the practical parts of Zuccari’s theory than has hitherto been given. His views of the relationship between knowledge acquisition and artistic production play a central role in this interpretation. The second part shows how his theory of disegno informed his ideas for the step-by-step training program of the Accademia di San Luca. In the third part, Zuccari’s theory of art is used to analyze the functions of the disegni (drawings, woodcuts, and engravings) and the artists the Accademia dei Lincei employed for its scientific projects in the first half of the seventeenth century. Seen through the lens of Zuccari’s theory, it is possible to understand the images as well as the artists themselves as instruments in the Lincean investigation of nature and to explain the different categories— academic or non-academic—used to distinguish among the different levels of proficiency that artists could attain.</p> Matthijs Jonker Copyright (c) 2021 Fri, 18 Jun 2021 00:00:00 +0200 Inscribed, Coded, Archived: Digitizing Early Modern Medical Casebooks <p>What does it mean to make a new archive out of an old archive? This article describes how the Casebooks Project transformed thousands of consultations recorded by the seventeenth-century English astrologer-physicians, Simon Forman and Richard Napier, into the Casebooks Digital Edition. At the same time, it reflects on the nature of the production of knowledge, now and four hundred years ago. It builds on work that interrogates materiality and considers the ways in which remediation destabilizes notions of inscription, dissemination, and preservation. It resists the temptation to reduce cases to data and presents a model of an enduring digital archive. Remediating Forman’s and Napier’s manuscripts shows how knowledges in the past and in the present are made in writing, within encounters, and through archives.</p> Lauren Kassell Copyright (c) 2021 Wed, 21 Jul 2021 00:00:00 +0200 Introduction: Histories of Ignorance <p>This introduction discusses the essays in this special issue in terms of ongoing changes in the historical study of knowledge. It addresses the challenges posed by the history of knowledge to the history of science and by the history of ignorance to the history of knowledge. It also discusses some of the central topics, themes, and issues at stake in studying the history of the production and circulation of ignorance.<br><br>This article is part of a special issue entitled “Histories of Ignorance,” edited by Lukas M. Verburgt and Peter Burke.</p> Lukas M. Verburgt, Peter Burke Copyright (c) 2021 Mon, 29 Nov 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Why Science Does Not Know <p>Currently, “scientific ignorance,” that is, the blind spots and knowledge gaps of science itself, appears to be an important and legitimate research topic in the sociology, history, and philosophy of science. In this article, it is argued that this unusual and provocative topic could only emerge as an object of research in its own right to the extent that the traditional modernist view of scientific ignorance as a merely ephemeral and ultimately irrelevant phenomenon was challenged, starting about one hundred years ago. The article follows the controversial shaping of the notion of scientific ignorance through the works of influential scholars in the twentieth century. It then traces the concept through the evolution of various research programs in the early twenty-first century, focusing on the reasons for and causes of that ignorance. One should nevertheless be careful not to (mis-)understand this history as a linear and irreversible “success story,” given that the familiar (self-)image of science as the eminent modern institution producing knowledge and eliminating ignorance is still highly influential.<br><br>This article is part of a special issue entitled “Histories of Ignorance,” edited by Lukas M. Verburgt and Peter Burke.</p> Peter Wehling Copyright (c) 2021 Mon, 29 Nov 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Ignoring Racism in the History of the German Immigration Society <p>The entanglement of the history of racism with the history of migration in Germany has been ignored thus far in German historiography. Exploring the epistemological significance of ignorance in sustaining racial knowledge in democratic, pluralistic societies is a relatively new field of research; in the German case it is virtually absent. Taking seriously Linda Martín Alcoff’s dictum that ignoring racism is a substantial epistemic practice of sustaining it, it seems worth studying the hermeneutic means by which German historiography creates this blind spot. One of the central motifs in this context is the “zero hour,” according to which German migration history only commenced in the mid-1950s and had nothing to do with how Germans had treated migrants since the turn of the century, particularly those considered as “<em>völkisch</em>”<sup><a id="xrn1" href="">1</a></sup>&nbsp;undesirable Others. In this article, the methods of comparison and omission are discussed as key epistemic tools for writing the zero hour into German migration history. This narrative path is contrasted with microhistorical accounts that reveal the ongoing production of racial knowledge and ignorance and their entanglement, which formed the basis of a new “art of communicating” about Others after the Holocaust. Racial knowledge is known and ignored simultaneously, so that even a supposedly anti-racist society does not have to erase it as long as it is “dominantly” ignored. This particular relationship reflects the idea that knowledge and ignorance per se are an entangled continuum with a myriad of grey scales where ignorance contains knowledge and knowledge is upheld by ignorance.<br><br>This article is part of a special issue entitled “Histories of Ignorance,” edited by Lukas M. Verburgt and Peter Burke.</p> Maria Alexopoulou Copyright (c) 2021 Mon, 29 Nov 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Moving Around in Narrowing Circles <div class="authors"> <p>This article takes up the production of ignorance in early modern academic information circulation by focusing on the question of how information changes from being present to being absent in the medium of the learned journal—in short, how knowledge becomes forgotten. To examine the processes behind this change, I have selected four exemplary late-seventeenth- to early-eighteenth-century scholars: Johannes Braun (1628–1708), Thomas Gale (1636–1702), Adriaan Reland (1676–1718), and Eusèbe Renaudot (1646–1720), and tracked their reception over the course of the eighteenth century, as indicated by patterns of references to them in learned journals. To this end, I chose four exemplary eighteenth-century learned journals, the&nbsp;<em>[Nova] Acta Eruditorum</em>, the&nbsp;<em>Journal des Savants</em>, the&nbsp;<em>Maandelyke Uittreksels, of Boekzaal der geleerde waerelt</em>, and the&nbsp;<em>Philosophical Transactions</em>, and searched digitally for all references to the four scholars between 1 January 1701 and 31 December 1800. Each journal page bearing at least one reference to one of these scholars is treated as a textual unit for the extraction of co-citation data. These co-citation data were then used as material for a diachronic network analysis of the reference patterns. The results show that the frequency of references made to all four scholars began to decline demonstrably in the middle of the eighteenth century and that by the last quarter they had become forgotten, that is, effectively “ignored.” These processes turn out to be context-sensitive and not determined by the quality of the contributions of those who became forgotten.<br><br>This article is part of a special issue entitled “Histories of Ignorance,” edited by Lukas M. Verburgt and Peter Burke.</p> </div> Tobias Winnerling Copyright (c) 2021 Mon, 29 Nov 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Intelligence, Ignorance, and Diplomacy in the Cold War <p>Drawing on perspectives from “ignorance studies,” this article examines a case of multiple types of expertise and ignorance within the geo-political context of the Cold War. It revisits a suspected breach of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). In 1979, an outbreak of anthrax occurred in the Russian city of Sverdlovsk, killing numerous people; Sverdlovsk was also the site of a military facility suspected by the West of undertaking biological weapons research. As news of the outbreak reached the West, first the USA, then the UK approached the USSR seeking clarification. The diplomatic path followed by the two nations involved a tricky balancing act, requiring attention to the souring of East-West relations following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the integrity of the BWC, and the remote possibility of ratifying the SALT II nuclear negotiations. Diplomatic tactics depended on epistemic issues: How to tell whether the disease outbreak was natural or a military accident, how to decide what evidence was needed? I argue that although officials and scientists did not welcome ignorance and uncertainty, they recognized it as an inevitable and highly problematic epistemological issue (can we know what happened?) and tempered it into a less problematic, or at least more manageable, pragmatic issue (is there sufficient evidence to follow a particular course of action?).<br><br>This article is part of a special issue entitled “Histories of Ignorance,” edited by Lukas M. Verburgt and Peter Burke.</p> Brian Balmer Copyright (c) 2021 Mon, 29 Nov 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Algorithmic Surveillance and the Political Life of Error <p>Concerns with errors, mistakes, and inaccuracies have shaped political debates about what technologies do, where and how certain technologies can be used, and for which purposes. However, error has received scant attention in the emerging field of ignorance studies. In this article, we analyze how errors have been mobilized in scientific and public controversies over surveillance technologies. In juxtaposing nineteenth-century debates about the errors of biometric technologies for policing and surveillance to current criticisms of facial recognition systems, we trace a transformation of error and its political life. We argue that the modern preoccupation with error and the intellectual habits inculcated to eliminate or tame it have been transformed with machine learning. Machine learning algorithms do not eliminate or tame error, but they optimize it. Therefore, despite reports by digital rights activists, civil liberties organizations, and academics highlighting algorithmic bias and error, facial recognition systems have continued to be rolled out. Drawing on a landmark legal case around facial recognition in the UK, we show how optimizing error also remakes the conditions for a critique of surveillance.<br><br>This article is part of a special issue entitled “Histories of Ignorance,” edited by Lukas M. Verburgt and Peter Burke.</p> Claudia Aradau, Tobias Blanke Copyright (c) 2021 Mon, 29 Nov 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Ignorance as a Productive Force in Complex Storyworlds <p>This article aims to show how attention to the history of ignorance can bring to light salient qualities of key texts from the past, and in doing so illuminate not just the history of the book and the history of reading. The eighteenth-century saw a substantial increase in availability of printed material, but most full-length printed books were beyond the budget of the poorest. This market was met by chapbook abridgements of the most popular texts, some of which were considered by the higher ranks to be proper reading for the poor (religious classics) and some which were more controversial (fiction). However, readers on each side of this divide were often ignorant not only of how the other side was reading specific texts, but of the fact that they were not in fact reading the same text at all, since the poor were much more likely to rely on abridgements. I compare two abridgements of a key eighteenth-century religious text, John Bunyan’s&nbsp;<em>Pilgrim’s Progress</em>, and show how both converge on a more forward looking narrative technique than the original and on a more level representation of social ranks than the original. An “approved” text for the poor, therefore, by means of ignorance, had the potential to encourage a non-approved attitude towards aesthetic innovation and social rank.<br><br>This article is part of a special issue entitled “Histories of Ignorance,” edited by Lukas M. Verburgt and Peter Burke.</p> Elspeth Jajdelska Copyright (c) 2021 Mon, 29 Nov 2021 00:00:00 +0100 History, Scientific Ignorance, and the Anthropocene <p>This essay reflects on the ways in which the notions of scientific ignorance and the Anthropocene bear upon the development of the history of knowledge, asking what it might mean for the field to make an “ignorance” and “anthropocenic” turn. The central argument is that these turns suggest that the history of knowledge is and should strive to be more than an expansion of the history of science, instead taking up some of the epistemic challenges of the 21st-century of which scientific knowledge is just one part.<br><br>This article is part of a special issue entitled “Histories of Ignorance,” edited by Lukas M. Verburgt and Peter Burke.</p> Lukas M. Verburgt Copyright (c) 2021 Mon, 29 Nov 2021 00:00:00 +0100