The Humanitas Visiting Professorship in the History of Ideas is an innovative series at the University of Oxford that touches on the nexus of history, science and philosophy.

The Visiting Professorship in History of Ideas is made possible by the generous support of Francis Finlay and is hosted by Merton College, Oxford.

Jared Diamond 2016-2017

Jared Diamond is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Jared Diamond will deliver a lecture on the Traditional Assessment of Danger on November 30th, and will participate in a conversation with Richard Dawkins on Religion and Spirituality on December 2nd.

Lorraine Daston 2012-2013

Lorraine Daston is the Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

Lorraine Daston’s opening lecture was titled Nature’s Revenge: A History of Risk, Responsibility, and Reasonableness. Drawing both on her experience as Director of the Max Planck Institute and her scholarly knowledge and insight, Professor Daston’s lecture examined how Western cultures have approached and dealt with the idea of ‘Natural Disaster’.

In a symposium entitled The New History of Scientific Experience: Observing, Experimenting, Collecting, Representing and Reading in Early Modern Europe, Daston was joined by Dr Simon Werrett of UCL, Dr Sachiko Kusukawa of the University of Cambridge, Professor Martin Mulsow of the University of Erfurt, and Oxford’s Professor Laurence Brockliss. The participants discussed how historians are now approaching the task of describing scientific experience.

Professor Daston’s tenure concluded with an ‘In Conversation’ event between her, Professor Sally Shuttleworth, and Dr John Christie on Writing the History of Reason, discussing topics ranging from the problems of joining moral and natural orders, to the inherent tensions between democracy and technocracy, and to the future of the History of Science itself.

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