Saturday, October 23, 2010

What I meant about a new project

I apologise for these lags in my postings... I am sure many of you have your own business to attend to. But I know you would like to have some sort of action, or at least know there are good things to come. I can't make promises, but I am trying to arrange for good things to come. Bear in mind I have no direct connection to a publisher or anything else, and my own time constraints often leave me with very little time, even to post here. (I hope you may have some small satisfaction with my postings on my own blogg where I am trying to maintain my Thursday writing.)

But 2011 is just two months away, and there are not many more years until 2016.

Why do I bring up 2016?

Well - there are two reasons, both of which must strongly act upon us of the Duhem Society, and which may possibly get us to accomplish something.

The first: 2016 marks the centennial of the death of Pierre Duhem. This year ought to be marked in a fitting manner. Since at this time the "Duhem Society" exists only as a loose collection (yet a world-wide collection) of friends and scholars, linked by common interests by means of this blogg, I don't yet know how we might take a suitable action towards this event. But we ought to consider it. In my dreams I might hope for a major conference, with papers and seminars and a dinner, and time to meet and to talk among ourselves, and a Mass of Thanksgiving - perhaps one in France, and one on the western side of the Atlantic. I also dream of a publication of "The Collected Works" of Pierre Duhem (annotated, as may be fitting) and also an English translation. But I have no means to enable any of this. At best I have an enthusiasm... and offer a sense of support to those who may be able to work at this.

The second: 2016 marks the 50th anniversary (the semi-centennial) of Stanley Jaki's first major work in his field: The Relevance of Physics. This also should demand a conference, and perhaps a republication - in this case I consider an annotated edition to be very important. I regret that there was never time for us (I mean the students and friends of SLJ) to produce a Festschrift to Jaki. But by 2016 we ought to have something... if only a study of this important text. There is plenty of meat to go around; one avenue I would like to see explored is a cross-link from TROP to his other works.

It is in this second case that I have hope for my own involvement. I would like to begin a blogg-study of this work - but I would like to know whether this is of any interest to my readers. I have done something similar to this for Chesterton's Orthodoxy (you can see here for the index) - though for TROP I will not post the complete text, since it is not out of copyright. I will work out a way of handling the disparate editions; that is not an insurmountable difficulty. But I think we need to begin. We may wish for a complete annotated "Collected Works" of Jaki as well as Duhem - these are huge projects and will take a long time - but we must start somewhere, and TROP and its 50th anniversary provides a suitable starting point.

So please add a comment about this. Note: I am not trying to give myself airs as a "scholar" - perhaps there are plenty of real scholars at work on PD and SLJ, and I am simply out of touch with the journals. But there is the INTERNET now, and we ought to be cross-pollinating - there are people who are interested, who are enthusiastic, and who are capable of thought - and of writing about their thoughts.

Besides: what a grand thing: to unite, here in this wonderful medium, in consideration of the works of these great scientist-historians. It reminds one of the work of Mersenne...

Finally, I must point out one other matter in regard to this topic. Perhaps you are interested, but for some reason find yourself in disagreement with me, or us, or the approach. There is no reason why you may not have your own blogg, and we might communicate. The Scholastics often used the debate-paradigm, since this is a tool for seeking the truth. It would be a great thing if there would be other Duhem Society bloggs, perhaps in other languages, or focussed on other aspects.

I write this now, Saturday October 23, 2010, since only God knows how much (or how little) time I may have. At least I have told you about my hopes. But I would like to hear from you. (Or you can e-mail me; see the link in my profile - please be sure to state "Duhem Society" in your subject-line.) And I hope that (God willing) I shall meet many of you at the conference in 2016, if not sooner.


Benjamino said...

Dear friends,
I introduce myself, I'm Beniamino Danese from Italy and this is my first comment...
I've been interested in the work of Father Jaki from the late 1990s, and met him in 2004 and from then on. I had translated his Means to Message into Italian. I am a physicist.
I humbly think this new project is a very good idea and I won't let it down.
A chapter in The Relevance is "The Place of Physics in Human Culture" and I can do some work about it, as in the topic of Science Education according to Father Jaki. I could also give a hand in preparing coffee or pizza at the Conference in 2016.
I'm not a scholar, even if as a matter of fact I find it easier to write a paper than a comment in a blogg.
with every good wish.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

I've been out of the loop here for a while, but glossing The Relevance is a great endeavor. I've posted numerous excerpts from it at my blog and have a largish essay on truth in (exact physical) science, so, once again, it's nice to have this blog stoking my Jakian embers.