A Cultural History of Mathematics in the 18th Century


The 18th century saw decisive changes in mathematics, such as the establishment of the new analysis as the leading discipline or the further development of probability theory. The subject thereby acquired disciplinary contours and became emancipated from its status as a mere auxiliary science; at the same time, it acquired increasing significance for scientific and technological developments and for concomitant processes of sociocultural transformation. The steadily expanding field of application of mathematics as a universal instrument for the modeling of scientific theories brought about a shift from a theologically dominated world view to a mathematical perspective, as was also reflected in philosophy, art, and literature. The inner-mathematical development of theories and their widely ramified effects – which also gave rise to critical contemporary discussion – were at the focus of the symposium, which was characterized by the interplay of perspectives from the history of science and technology, philosophy, literature, and cultural science.


June 14-15, 2019

The historical research topics were put forward for discussion by:
Prof. Dr. em. David Bellhouse, mathematician, Western University, London (Ontario)
Dr. Jip van Besouw, philosopher, Vrije Universiteit, Brussels
Dr. Franziska Bomski, literary scholar and mathematician, Einstein Forum, Potsdam
Maître de conférences Dr. Maarten Bullynck, mathematician, Université Paris 8, Saint-Denis
Dr. Jeanne Peiffer, mathematician, Centre Alexandre-Koyré, Paris
Prof. Dr. Helmut Pulte, philosopher and scientific historian, Ruhr University, Bochum
Prof. Dr. David E. Rowe, scientific historian, Johannes Gutenberg ¬University, Mainz
Dr. Jane Wess, scientific historian, Edinburgh


We Need to Talk ... About the Bomb


Today, more countries have nuclear weapons than ever before. The spiral of armament has long since been gaining renewed momentum, not merely in rhetorical terms. Nevertheless, the nuclear threat now only plays a minor role in the public consciousness. Although more attention is given nowadays to other cataclysmic scenarios, such as climatic change or the danger of terrorist attacks, the nuclear option remains the preeminent symbol of existential destruction potential. In lectures and discussions at the Einstein Forum, the discourse centered on how an appropriate public debate of nuclear weapons can be reactivated.


February 21-22, 2019

Robert Andersen, journalist and author, Phoenix
Prof. Dr. Lorraine Daston, historian, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin
Mohammed Hanif, author, London/Karachi
Prof. Dr. Susan Neiman, philosopher, Einstein Forum, Potsdam
Dr. Martin Schaad, historian, Einstein Forum, Potsdam
Dr. Lovely Umayam, nuclear safety analyst, Stimson Center, Washington