Which context? Reflections on contextualism in history of philosophy and the sciences

There seems to be no need to argue for contextualism nowadays; after all, even history of philosophy has succumbed to what has been called the „contextualist revolution.” And yet, it is one thing to say that contextualism is the good practice; and another to detect and specify the „right” context.

How does one evaluate and choose the context for a given text or set of practices? Historical objects are so context-sensitive; and meanings can change according to the way you embed the object of your investigation in this or that context. Are there good practices for evaluating contexts? Are these practices discipline-related? Are they historically determined, or mere subject to fashion? The purpose of our workshop is to discuss these and related questions both on particular topics/case studies and in their generality.

Dana Jalobeanu invited international experts to Hamburg and organized this workshop.


  • Ofer Gal, University of Sydney
    Englishmen in Paris: White, Digby, Hobbes and the implications of Descartes’ Optics.
  • Daniel Garber, Princeton University
    Descartes in context(s)
  • Rodolfo Garau, Universität Hamburg
    When there is too much context? (The case of astrology)
  • Laura Georgescu, University of Groningen
    Margaret Cavendish’s con-text
  • Dana Jalobeanu, University of Bucharest, Universität Hamburg Fellow 2022/2023
    Reconstructing Bacon in different contexts – a history of several editions
  • Alexandru Liciu, University of Bucharest
    Robert Hooke’s Science of ‘Petrifaction’ and its European Context
  • Dmitri Levitin, All Souls College, Oxford/Utrecht University
    Newton at Cambridge: How Many Contexts?
  • Matthias Schemmel, Universität Hamburg
    Later Mohist Science (China, ca. 300 BCE) as a probe into the role of contexts.
  • Lukas M. Verburgt, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences
    A Thousand Bacons: Francis Bacon and Baconianism in Victorian England – The Case of the Spedding-Ellis-Heath Edition

The workshop will take place at HIAS, Mittelweg 161, 20148 Hamburg and online (for the zoom link email to dana.jalobeanu@hias-hamburg.de).