Search result: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2020

History and Philosophy of Knowledge Master Information
Basic Courses
851-0147-01LTheories, Experiments, Causality
Does not take place this semester.
Particularly suitable for students of D-PHYS
W3 credits2GR. Wallny, M. Hampe
AbstractThis course critically evaluates topics and approaches from physics against a broader historical and philosophical/systematic background. Attention will be paid, amongst other things, to the role of experiments, to the concepts of matter and field, and to theory formation.
ObjectiveStudents should be able to critically evaluate different topics and approaches in physics. They should also be enabled to communicate their insights to people from other disciplines and fields.
Prerequisites / NoticeThis course is part of the ETH "Critical Thinking" initiative.
851-0158-13LEcology and Environmentalism Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 40

Particularly suitable for students of D-ERDW, D-HEST, D-USYS, D-BIOL
W3 credits2SN. Guettler
AbstractThe notion of „ecology“ refers to both, scientific research on environments as well as their protection. But how have academic ecology and the environmental movements intersected throughout history?
ObjectiveIn the seminar, students will read and discuss key sources as well as secondary literature on the knowledge transfers between scientific ecology and the environmental movements of the 19th and 20th century. Topics range from 19th-century homeland movement and the rise of ecological awareness in colonial settings, to the rise of an environmental awareness during the Cold War, with a special focus on „green“ politics in Europe. Apart from scientists and „counter-scientists“ the seminar focuses on concepts and ideas that circulated between academic ecology and different nature movements.
The participants learn to engage historically with original texts as well as to handle independently the extensive historical literature on the history of environmentalism. At the same time, they develop a critical understanding of different political agendas that have shaped academic and popular ecology until the present day. Students also learn to communicate their findings by writing short (and fictive) blog posts on different aspects of this history.
851-0125-67LStructuralist and Post-Structuralist Approaches to Signs and Knowledge Restricted registration - show details W3 credits2SR. Wagner
AbstractThis course will review some structuralist and post-structuralist approaches to signs and knowledge. It will start from the French structuralist tradition, continue with the "1968 thinkers", and conclude with feminist and queer critiques of knowledge that rely on this tradition. The theories studied in class will be evaluated in terms of their application to science studies.
Objective1. To introduce the structuralist and post-structuralist tradition, as well as subsequent queer and feminist critiques of knowledge (the thinkers taught in the course will most probably come from the following list: Ferdinand de Saussure, Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, and Donna Harraway).
2. To apply the ideas of this tradition to the context of science studies

At the end of the course the students will be able to analyze scientific texts and practices in terms of structuralist, post-structuralist and feminist critique of science.
851-0101-59LScience and Masculinities Restricted registration - show details W3 credits2SB. Schär
AbstractMen have always been over-represented in the sciences. Why is this so? This seminar inquires how male supremacy in science evolved and transformed historically in different places around the world. How was and is science linked to particular images of manliness? How did and do women and non-conforming men around the world nonetheless succeed in doing science?
ObjectiveStudents will become familiarized with the history of science from the perspective of gender history. Gender Historians understand male dominance in science not as natural phenomenon, but rather as feature in need of historical inquiry and explanation.
The aim of this seminar is therefore to examine different ways historians analyse and explain historical and ongoing male overrepresentation in the sciences. By reading case studies from different parts of the world, students will be able to evaluate firstly how male overrepresentation was and remains linked to legacies of western and middle-class dominance in science. Secondly, they will also explore how women and non-conforming men nevertheless succeed(ed) in science at different historical points in time.
Students will have the opportunity to select a topic from the ETH Zurich's gendered history and write an essay on how masculinity and gender operate(d)s in our university.
ContentThis seminar treats male overrepresentation in the sciences as a phenomenon in need of historical explanation. Reading case studies from around the world, students will be able to asses how male overrepresentation was and remains linked with legacies of western and middle-class dominance in the sciences. Student will analyze aspects of this history in the case of ETH Zurich in a term paper.
851-0003-00LScience and Food in the Development of the Modern World (1890s–1970s) Restricted registration - show details W2 credits1SS. G. Sujeet George
AbstractThis seminar course aims to offer a historical perspective on the development of modern food systems, agrarian science and global cultures of taste and eating.
ObjectiveTo understand the links between science and modern food cultures; evaluate the global connections in the formation of national cuisines; analyze how science and the food industry have shaped people’s ideas of taste, nutrition and aesthetics.
ContentLooking at specific food and non-food commodities cultivated, developed and consumed across different regions in the world through the late 19th and 20th centuries, the course shall try to make sense of the aesthetic, economic and scientific assumptions inherent within the varied food palettes of our modern world. The course shall introduce students to the interlinked and overlapping histories of the development of modern agricultural science, the political economy of food production, distribution and consumption, and ideas of culinary aesthetics and national cuisines.

Students shall engage with the histories and debates around agricultural research, ideas of nutrition and hunger, questions of race, diversity and community belonging, and the troubled narratives of environment and sustainability in industrial agriculture. The course will utilize a combination of historical pamphlets and advertisements, newspaper accounts, as well as contemporary documentary films to engage with some of the core questions around the modern history of food cultures and agrarian science.
851-0006-00LWater in the Early Modern Period: A Material and Environmental History Restricted registration - show details W3 credits2ST. Asmussen
AbstractThe seminar deals with questions of how water was perceived, used and appropriated in medieval and early modern societies. We examine water as a livelihood (drinking water, irrigation resource), energy source, transport medium, infrastructure and threat between 1400 and 1800.
ObjectiveThe students acquire historical knowledge of how pre-modern societies appropriated the natural substance water and how they themselves were formed and changed by the interactions with the liquid element. Students are expected to read original German, French and English sources.
ContentThe seminar examines the history of the substance and uses of water from the late Middle Ages to the 18th century. Using text and image sources, we will examine the physical, cultural, economic and scientific-technical implications of the relationship between man and water in plenary sessions and groups.
We deal with (al-)chemical analyses of water in the context of medical treatises and spas, the expansion and challenges of the water infrastructure ( fountains, sewage canals, irrigation canals, inland waterways), the associated changes of landscapes as well as with water as a threat (floods).
851-0107-00LScience and the Public: A Problem of Mediation that the Media Have to Solve? Restricted registration - show details W3 credits2SU. J. Wenzel
AbstractWhat can, what should, what do "laymen" want to know and understand from scientific findings? How and what is "conveyed" in reporting on science? Does science journalism have to follow scientific criteria? How do the natural sciences differ from the humanities and social sciences in terms of "comprehensibility" and public visibility?
ObjectiveGaining insights into the relationship between the sciences, the public and the media, into their historical development and current problems - with particular reference to the "Wissenschaftsfeuilleton".
ContentThe feuilleton of the «Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung» of 27 June 2000 has gone down in the annals of recent media history. The last sequences of the fully mapped human genetic code were printed on six large-format pages: the letters A, G, C and T in various combinations and sequences - a «readable » but incomprehensible jumble of letters. What at the time was astounding journalistic coup and met with enthusiasm as well as head shaking can (also) be read as an allegory of the tense relationship between science and the public. What can, what should, what do «laymen» want to know and understand from scientific findings? What role do the media play, does science journalism play in this? How and what is «conveyed» in reporting on scientific findings? And does science journalism have to follow scientific criteria in such reporting? How do the natural sciences, medicine and technology differ from the humanities and social sciences in terms of «comprehensibility» and public awareness? Are we really dealing with two diverging «science cultures» - and two different ways of presenting them in the media?
These questions will be explored on some excursions into recent and also older media, scientific and cultural history.
851-0160-00LTexts About Wisdom Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 30.
W3 credits2SM. Hampe
AbstractThis seminar investigates texts that claim to be able to change the readers way of life in a decisive way, e.g. from the stoic tradition (Epictetus, Seneca), the enlightenment (Spinoza), and from the 19th century (Kierkegaard, Marx)
ObjectiveAcquiring of fundamental knowledge about the European literature on wisdom.
ContentThis seminar investigates texts that claim to be able to change the readers way of life in a decisive way, e.g. from the stoic tradition (Epictetus, Seneca), the enlightenment (Spinoza), and from the 19th century (Kierkegaard, Marx)
862-0105-00LNew Tendencies in the History of Knowledge Restricted registration - show details
Master in Hystory and Philosophy of Knowledge-Students only.
W3 credits2SM. Hagner
AbstractStudents are invited to collect new publications of interest (books, articles, essays, blogs, etc.) in the topic history and philosophy of knowledge and present them in the seminar for discussion.
ObjectiveIt is about getting an overview of current interesting and relevant trends in the history and philosophy of knowledge.
ContentThe content is based on the suggestions and ideas of the seminar participants.
851-0318-00LLaw and LiteratureW3 credits2SA. Kilcher
AbstractLaw and literature are in many ways connected. The law employs literary genres and partly embodies its humanistic potential, while literature addresses the connections between laws, norms and justice on many levels, including their enactment, philosophical justification, and societal critique. The course will explore this complex connection between law and literature both practically and theoretic
Objective1) critical reflection on the historical differences in conceptualizing legality and justice in modernity as reflected in literary texts; 2) theoretical understanding of different models of legality and justice; 3) aesthetic and poetic aspects underpinning the concepts of justice and legality
ContentLiteratur und Recht sind auf komplexe Weise aufeinander bezogen und können sich wechselseitig erhellen. Das Recht verwendet Verfahren der Literatur (etwa ihre rhetorischen, ästhetischen und poetologischen Darstellungs- und Überzeugungsmittel) und verkörpert Elemente ihres humanen Potenzials. Die Literatur wiederum thematisiert und reflektiert die Zusammenhänge von Recht, Norm und Gesetz auf unterschiedlichen Ebenen: erstens auf der Ebene praktischer Umsetzung, zweitens auf der Ebene philosophischer Begründung, drittens auf der Ebene der wissenschaftlichen und technischen Anwendung, viertens auf der Ebene gesellschaftlicher Kritik und utopischer Gegenmodelle von Gerechtigkeit, oder aber dystopischer Fälle von Ungerechtigkeit. Das Seminar untersucht diese komplexen Wechselwirkungen von Literatur und Recht sowohl theoretisch als auch an konkreten Beispielen aus der neueren deutschen und europäischen Literatur (im Drama wie in Prosa) von Goethe und Kleist bis hin zu Kafka und Dürrenmatt.
851-0280-00LBeginningsW3 credits2SC. Jany
Abstract"All beginnings are difficult,” goes the saying, “but without them there wouldn't be endings." However, what makes beginnings so difficult? What kind of action is that? Which knowledge does it presuppose? And what would a beginning say about the end? We will pursue these questions by reading sacred, philosophical, literary, and scientific texts that, each in its own way, make a beginning.
Objective- thorough reading and critical analysis of the texts
- reflections on the historical and epistemological function of fictional origins such as cosmological myths, foundationalist philosophy, and poetic incantations
- rhetorical analysis of foundational acts carried out in thought and writing
- introduction of the problem of justifying knowledge
851-0326-00LNationalism and Postnationalism in Modern Judaism: Historical Developments and Current Debates Restricted registration - show details W2 credits1SC. Wiese
AbstractSince the emergence of the Zionist movement in the 19th century multiple interpretations of the concept of nation and nationalism within Judaism have been discussed. The course introduces these debates and discusses the continuing historical and political discourse on Zionism, Post-Zionism and postnationalism.
Objective1. To deepen the knowledge about inner-Jewish political debates about the goals and the nature of Jewish nationalism as well as alternative self-conceptions.
2. To gain insights into the polyphony of historical and political discourse.
3. To strengthen the ability to understand historical and contemporary texts within the political context of the respective time period.
851-0522-00LDigital Statehood (1960-2000). Imaginaries, Experiences, Trading Zones Restricted registration - show details
Does not take place this semester.
W3 credits2S
AbstractThe seminar addresses the expectations, experiences and negotiations in which digital processes, legal regulations and administrative routines are to be harmonized in the Swiss Federal Administration (1960-2000).
ObjectiveStudents should understand the interactions between technological processes, legal regulations and bureaucratic routines. In addition to reading research literature and conceptual work, the main focus is on studying relevant sources.
ContentSince the late 1950s, public administrations have been using computers to perform their tasks. Focusing on the use of computers in the Swiss federal administration, the seminar aims to identify how digital processes, legal regulations and administrative routines should be reconciled in public administrations. On the basis of IT projects of the Swiss Federal Administration, it will be investigated how computers were made usable and which options for action were opened up to the computer-supported federal state as a result. Last but not least, we want to ask how a (computer-) history of digital statehood can be written.
851-0090-00LThe Philosophy of Complex Systems Restricted registration - show details W3 credits2SO. Del Fabbro
AbstractToday complexity research has found an enormous expansiveness in heterogenous areas, such as physics, biology, medicine, urban complexity, environment sustainability, public policy, economics, sociology, education, computer science, robotics, AI, etc. Furthermore, we will look at historical advancements like cybernetics, and how complexity research influenced philosophical theories.
ObjectiveStudents should learn about the different types of argumentative texts and scientific theories. They should learn to understand the descriptive and critical value of texts that operate at the boarder between philosophy and science.
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