Mastery of Nature: Promises and Problems
Hosted by The MIT Benjamin Franklin Project
Thursday, May 12 – Friday, May 13, 2016
MIT Samberg Conference Center (E52), 6th floor (Map)

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  “For nature is not conquered, if not by obeying.”

In order to gain some greater clarity and insight on the host of complex issues involved in “the mastery of nature,” the conference proposes to explore questions such as the following:

  • What is origin of the very idea of “the mastery of nature”, and how does it differ from previous ideas about nature, and why did philosophy/science abandon the previous ideas?
  • Does the aim or goal of a mastery of nature somehow condition the very principles and new conceptualizations of nature?
  • How can we best understand the characteristic modern idea of a “law of nature” and the change in the concept of nature it entails?
  • What is the place of the modern project in one of its first political fruits, the United States of America?
  • How can we best understand the mutually implicating place of modern science and liberal democratic politics in the commercial republic: simply harmony, or potentially in tension?

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