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Cosmologies of Resource Transformations in the Early Modern Period

Nov 26, 2019

Kooperativer Workshop der SFB-Teilprojekte B06 "Kosmologische Wissensformationen der Vormoderne" und A06 "Alchemia poetica" in Zusammenarbeit mit ERC EarlyModernCosmology [Horizon 2020, GA 725883]

This workshop is devoted to cosmological conceptions of resources and their transformation in early modernity. Ideas of cosmic cycles of matter, planetary material flows, functional interactions of parts of the earth within organistic conceptions and the insertion of human interactions with nature anticipated the awareness of the transformatory power of humans at a planetary level. We consider the relationship of resources to a cosmological vision of being reciprocal, and aim to reassess the cosmological theories of material resources which anticipated the Anthropocene idea of a geo-anthropology.

In the early modern period, the framework of knowledge in which resources are mobilized and transformed is often cosmological in nature, for instance metals are understood within astronomical contexts. Also, the cycle of water is explained by the influence of moon and sun. In protogeology, the earth is an organism that has existed since the divine creation and that produces the elements that can also be transformed by human action. The post-Copernican conception of the Earth as one planet among the others, for the first time, offers the opportunity to conceive a homogeneous universe in which the elemental transformations that take place on earth correspond to possible transformations in the cosmos.

Individuals aimed to understand human induced, as well as non-human processes and to bring together different areas of knowledge, as agriculture, infrastructure construction, mining, navigation, mechanical engineering (and many more). Our aim is to trace how water and metals began to be perceived as 'natural resources' in the modern sense, for example by Leonard Thurneysser trying to describe the European waters in his "Pison" or Georg Agricola in "De re metallica" attempting to systematize the knowledge of the mining of ores. The knowledge-based exploitation of natural resources for the benefit of human societies demanded an interplay of many knowledge components: e.g. ... mechanics, natural philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, proto-chemistry and alchemy, proto-geology, proto-geography, hydraulics, proto-meteorology (and many others). In the examples discussed during the meeting, cosmology will not be limited to an astronomical cosmos, but terrestrial conditions will be included.


Planned Speakers:

Tina Asmussen, ETH Zürich
Sebastian Felten, Universität Wien
Razieh Mousavi, MPIWG / SFB 980
Pietro Daniel Omodeo, Università Ca’Foscari Venezia, Italien
Juliane Schmidt, MPIWG
Alexander Schunka, Freie Universität Berlin
Volkhard Wels, FU Berlin / SFB 980


Dr. Helge Wendt (MPIWG / SFB 980, TP B06)
Prof. Dr. Volkhard Wels (FU Berlin / SFB 980, A06)
Prof. Dr. Pietro Daniel Omodeo (Università Ca’Foscari Venezia / ERC EarlyModernCosmology)

Time & Location

Nov 26, 2019

Sitzungsraum der SFB-Villa, Schwendenerstraße 8, 14195 Berlin-Dahlem