The Project



NOTCOM is a philosophical study of common notions, collective inquiry, and dissemination strategies in seventeenth-century natural science, with special focus on the role of so-called “common notions.”

Using a ground-breaking transversal methodology, it studies: (1) epistemological models of consensus as they emerged from early modern controversies in logic, rhetoric, moral philosophy, theology and law, and how they were re-deployed within natural philosophy; (2) methods of collective inquiry in early modern natural philosophy; (3) the role of consensus models and methods of collective inquiry in the public dissemination of early modern natural philosophy; (4) the actuality of early modern consensus models and methods of collective inquiry in relation to current philosophy of science and science communication studies.

Combining these four dimensions, NOTCOM explores the historical background to the current notion of “scientific consensus” and the contemporary uses of writing this history. NOTCOM is conducted within the general framework of the Institut de Sciences Humaines et Sociales (INSHS) of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), but administratively shared between two INSHS units: (1) IHRIM (CNRS, UMR 5317) at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon is a mixed research unit dedicated to modern history of ideas in the period c. 1500–1900. (2) MFO (CNRS, UMIFRE 11, USR 3129) at Oxford University. The Maison Française d’Oxford is a CNRS mixed research unit abroad, associated with Oxford University.

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