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Chemistry´s transgressions and the primacy of epistemology.

Grant number: 12/10854-4
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2012
Effective date (End): March 13, 2014
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - Epistemology
Principal Investigator:Mauricio de Carvalho Ramos
Grantee:Ronei Clécio Mocellin
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


It is commonly assumed that there is a very clear divide between the natural and the artificial. This traditional break is not set apart from others, like science and technique, science and society or yet nature and society. Historically, chemistry has disrespected the boundaries of these dichotomies. The purpose of this project is to analyze the foundations of these transgressions through three themes: the relations between chemistry and society; chemical images of nature and its (ontological, epistemological, methodological&) consequences; and the centrality of the chemical knowledge in the building of an epistemology of material properties. In order to achieve these purposes, it is proposed an analysis founded on the investigation of a key concept in the historical construction of the chemistry´s epistemological identity. This is the concept of artifice. Putting away any pretension of producing a general narrative, the professional trajectory of the French chemist Louis-Bernard Guyton de Morveau (1737-1816) will serve as a case study. Finally, taking the historical construction of the concepts of nature and artifice in a longue durée, it is intended to approach general issues like: Which were the obstacles chemists found in the public plea of a science based on artificiality? The "dignity" of the chemical artifice depends on the "image of nature" adopted? What are the main chemical images of nature? And also more specific questions like: Which is the epistemological meaning of a possible dissolution of the boundary nature/artifact? Could chemistry ground an epistemology of science that does not limit its interests to the logical or linguistic analyses of knowledge? Which are the epistemological specificities of a fundamentally contextual and dynamic science interested mainly in what material objects actually do? What is the meaning of a chemical epistemology of materiality?

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