Our open access book series resulting from a collaboration between Venice (Edizioni Ca’ Foscari) and Berlin (Edition Open Access) are launched as hybrid publication in line with the new needs — and digital opportunities — of scientific dissemination. It merges different scientific genres with the digital edition of sources in the history of science.
Such mixed editorial forms already exist and have proven particularly successful in communicating the results of specific research topics. The publications will be numbered progressively like a journal and will appear in one of the two series, “Verum factum: Studies and Sources on Political Epistemology” and “Knowledge Hegemonies in the Early Modern World,” depending on their bearing.
This series is dedicated to the investigation how the different dimensions of knowledge relate to the political. This concerns the motivating as well as delimiting, its informing as well as corrupting consequences. It should bring into focus the collective and oriented character (telos) of knowledge production and science. The title quotes Giambattista Vico’s famous principle to emphasize the activity (praxis) from which knowledge emerges. Instead of giving it a definite interpretation we thus call for inquiry into the relation of telos and praxis, i.e. the agencies and dynamics which determine the collective production of knowledge.
The series aims to provide a trans-disciplinary and global forum of discussion about the genesis, validity, interrelations and consequences of epistemic activity. It is open to contributions and interventions from different fields and perspectives. The relational focus on the interferences of epistemic activities or cultural realms respectively, contrasts the tendency of meta-scientific disciplines (HPS, SSK, STS, etc.) to become isolated, self-referential endeavors. Meta-science, education and the dissemination of knowledge do not only inform the images of science but also the bodies of knowledge by shaping basic attitudes, science policies and research agendas.
A prevailing image of science has been for a long time that of an intellectual institution aiming to improve the conditions of human life through the advancement of learning. This Enlightenment view has been cast into doubt for many reasons, but particularly in consideration of the uses and abuses of techno-scientific developments. Their devastating consequences and perceived irrationality has suggested the irrationality of science itself, its methods, its development and the arbitrariness of its goals. Still, contemporary societies await the realization of the promises of scientific advance in a future to come. However, the question arises if such promises are purely technological and utilitarian devoid of political aims of emancipation and a common good.
In order to address such question, it is necessary to enter the factory of knowledge production and to consider how it works. How is scientific labor organized? How are matter and meaning intertwined? How does knowledge production interact with public discourse, social ideals, ideology, economic interests, and the constitution of political hegemonies? How can the apparently disunited strands of science and knowledge production be understood in a unified cultural understanding with its historical, ecologic, socio-economic and political dimensions?
In a perspective, which revives the question of science in society, the logic of science by no means has to be abstracted from the empirical, e.g. the political economy of which it is a pivotal element. Epistemology thus has to address the conditions of possibility in a broader sense. Practices and models, development and organization of these processes should be considered in relation to their implicit or presupposed principles and explicit rules and aims.
If the Baconian dictum “power is knowledge” is confronted with the question of Vico’s principle it becomes clear that what is at stake is not only the transformation of the natural environment but at the same time that of society (and finally culture at large). This brings the question about particular and/or collective interests behind the construction of the environment into focus. In general terms the problem arises, if it will be possible to seize (or regain) the means of knowledge production and redirect scientific labor and the institutions of knowledge and intelligence toward emancipative and collectively favorable goals.
Since this problem has not been formulated only recently, the series will also encompass the republication of (often unacknowledged) classical texts and their critical assessment alongside new explorative studies, methodologies and interventions. Its overall aim is to encourage a dialogue with a more systemical view on the problem of science, the world and society from a critical political-epistemological perspective.
The series is open to format and genre diversity. It acknowledges different means and ways of inquiry and is open to monographs, collective volumes, translations, dissertations, research reports, essays, pamphlets and even documentaries.
New formats and digital experimentation are welcome, as well as new ways of presenting the circulation of sources. The series will mainly publish in English, German and Italian, but is open to other languages if editorial arrangements can be made. It explicitly wants to encourage translation projects. All texts in this series will be available in a real open-access format (‘gold’). At the same time high quality standards in the reviewing and editorial processes are pursued.
The series is supported and published byin co-operation with the Edition Open Access (EOA) of the Max Planck Institute of the History of Science in Berlin. The benefits of openness and digital flexibility intrinsic to EOA have been demonstrated by the experience of the over the past ten years. They range from the rapid circulation of ideas to high quality readability of documents, new citation forms, connection of publications to databases and to digital tools, and the possibility of multi-phase publications. Most importantly, a scholarly open access series allows for the publication of sources and studies that would not otherwise be printed by profit-oriented publishers due to lack of clearly identified market, despite their great value for research.
This series is devoted to the social-cultural study of early modern knowledge cultures (ca.1450-1750). It promotes studies that highlight the importance of science as a collective praxis, understood as a contested field informed by political, philosophical and confessional struggles for cultural hegemony, and in connection with social and economic interests. The emphasis on the political and ethical dimensions of agency should complement existing narratives on the materials, techniques, and meanings of learned and artistic practices. Moreover, since early modern knowledge was articulated and modified through its circulation within various realms of society, including artisanal circles and academic networks, it is crucial to investigate the institutional, political, and ideological settings of early-modern knowledge cultures. In how far did political antagonisms, ideological struggles, and religious tensions hinder scientific development or underpin it? How did the modern construction of identity along confessional, linguistic, and political lines affect the ethos and epistemic values of the sciences? What hegemonic values underpinned the early modern transformation of life and knowledge production?
To deal with struggles for knowledge hegemonies implies to value political subjectivity, initiative, and action in their capacity to redirect the structural elements that emerge from history.
Among the many cultural forms of knowledge, science seems to have a tight connection with the production and reproduction of material life conditions of society, although it is closely linked to the immaterial and symbolic spheres of culture, as well. The concept of knowledge hegemony emphasizes the collective subjectivity as the driving force of political and epistemic transformations.
Over the last four decades, taking inspiration from fields such as cultural anthropology and STS, historians of science have increasingly turned their lens to the exploration of situated knowledge practices. More recently, with the turn to global history, the field has further broadened to interrogate how knowledge is produced, transmitted and appropriated in specific times and places and the power structures shaping relationship between actors and ideas, skills, materials and techniques and between different locales. Grand modernist narratives of the past, which told a story of European ‘progress’ and scientific ‘supremacy’, have been successfully questioned and replaced by a more nuanced agenda. History of early modern science today understands scientific knowledge and identities no longer as simply ‘neutral’ or ‘objective’ but as a product of complicated knowledge and power constellations, specific to time and place.
In spite of the widening of our field, the cultural-political dimension of science—that is to say, its place within hegemonic projects, ideological clashes, and struggles for meaning—still warrants further exploration. The attention to individual actors at the center of the cultural turn, although beneficial for specific case studies, has often obfuscated the collective dimension of intellectual endeavors and their particular objectives. Specific studies which draw upon this fundamental premise will form a comparative enquiry into the political esprit of knowledge and ultimately into the ethos which the community imparts onto knowledge and vice versa
In light of this program, the investigation of scientific practice will be enlarged to include scientific praxis, that is, a consideration of political agendas. This implies an integration of the study of epistemic values by reassessing agency as expressly linked to the moral (individual), ethical (individual but collectivity oriented) and political (collective) spheres of life and human interaction and association. Our series calls for a closer investigation of the manner in which such cognitive virtues are connected with practical virtues, ethical and political in the strict sense. We especially invite scholars to consider the cultural-political embedment of scientific knowledge, with particular reference to the collective directedness of science as a contested field of cultural-hegemonic struggles.
The goal of our series is to publish source-based studies that combine the online presentation of historical sources with accompanying critical monographs. We are open to new formats and digital experimentation, as we are to new ways of presenting the circulation and transformation of sources. All publications in this series will be available in an open-access format. The benefits of openness and flexibility intrinsic to EOA have been demonstrated by the experience of the http://echo.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/home), which provides a model for the secure and lasting storage of documents, digitized books, and other sources in the history of science. will support the project with the editorial expertise of an established academic publisher.over the past ten years. They range from the rapid circulation of ideas to high quality readability of documents, new citation forms, connection of publications to databases and to digital tools, and the possibility of multi-phase publications. Most importantly, a scholarly open access series allows for the publication of sources and studies that would not otherwise be printed by profit-oriented publishers due to “lack of market”, despite their great value for research, which in our case is historical and epistemological inquiry. Scholarly works published in this series will be connected with databases and digital repositories such as the European Cultural Heritage Online (