Fellows' Reading Group
September 4, 2014
The new terms has come and finally, today, all the new Fellows have arrived. Some, eager to start, have been here since mid-August. Others are still jet-lagged from their flights.
Our first meeting is scheduled for 4pm. But a few Fellows have decided that the discussion must start earlier. They are having their meeting already when I arrive in the lounge with my papers and cameras, checking that everything is set up in order.
The key part of "everything" is the huge chocolate cake that I now, by tradition, bring to each first meeting. I had a choice of sizes, I say, when our meeting starts of "large, large and ..." I pause there, for everyone knows what comes next. "So I chose large."
That is fitting. This is, as the label assures us, an "All American Chocolate Cake," which is an appropriate welcome for an international group of scholars.
We have a Dane, a German from Canada, a Romanian, two Swiss and three from the US.
We proceed with the rituals. I pass quickly round the table, taking instant photos. If you like the photo, or can live with it, you are asked to write your name on it and pin it to the board.
Soon we are settled back in our seats for the main business of day. We will each tell our stories. How did we get to be philosophers of science? What do we care about in philosophy of science?
As we pass round the table, I am enthralled by the richness of everyone's story. Every path winds. Many have strong backgrounds in a science or mathematics or logic or even music. Everyone wandered restlessly until they found philosophy of science as the place where their life interests settled.
The connections popped up. I heard mechanism several times; and mathematical logic; an admiration for Hempel; and concern that present accounts of evidence do not match scientific practice.
At one point, Sara mentioned an important figure in her life, Hanne Andersen, her advisor in Aarhus. Just a few feet from her seat at the table, on the wall in a frame marked 2008-2009, is a Polaroid photo of Hanne.
John D. Norton