Collaborative research, technological advancement and experimental philosophy in the 17th century: The Hartlib Circle and the rise of the “new science”


Our project intends to investigate a set of important but less explored sources of the scientific revolution, bringing to the fore a group of experimental projects with a significant contribution to the emergence of experimental philosophy and to the rise of “new science” in the second half of the seventeenth century. This is the case of the experimental projects elaborated between 1640-1650 and connected to what is called the Hartlib Circle (a network of correspondents spread almost all over Europe). We will show that the Hartlib Circle has influenced the multiple dimensions associated first with natural philosophy and then with modern science. Our claim is to advance and demonstrate that the type of experimentalism discovered in the Hartlib Circle has been very particular, and not general. This particular Baconianism is to be found in the practice of experimentation and it is to be seen at both deontological (through the use of collaborative mechanisms of communication) and methodological (using the experimental set-ups, investigation and experimental techniques, and translations from one domain into another) levels. And above all, this particular type of experimentation contributed to the rise of modern science.