The Leverhulme Re:Enlightenment Lectures, 2013
Clifford Siskin presented two Leverhulme Re:Enlightenment Lectures in March and April 2013 during his appointment as a Leverhulme Visiting Professor at CRASSH: "When System Met History: The Tectonics of the Modern Disciplines" and "Guesswork: System, Science, and the Advancement of Knowledge."
These lectures examine how knowledge gets stuck and the strategies for restarting it. Ranging from past to present-and back-they link Galileo's and Bacon's efforts to advance knowledge to efforts to scale up to new possibilities today. The first lecture highlights the "good fortune" (Bacon) of new tools, by debuting one. Like Galileo's spyglass, "Tectonics" zooms in-in this case, to clarify how our modern disciplines emerged from Enlightenment. The second lecture zooms out to reconsider the history of science in terms of Newton choosing "system" as his tool for guesswork.
Together, these lectures explore the conditions of possibility for a centre such as CRASSH-a collaborative effort to reconnect the arts, social sciences and humanities. The first condition is the division of knowledge into those categories, with their second-order divisions into the narrow but deep disciplines of modernity. The second condition is that we think that there's something to gain by this reconnect-that knowledge needs new forms of guesswork now. That thought-that we have a historically-specific opportunity for reorganizing and advancing knowledge-is also central to the The Re:Enlightenment Project's effort to explain and transform our Enlightenment inheritance. These lectures are not an effort to study Re:Enlightenment but to enact it.