Associate Professor Ofer Gal
MA Tel Aviv University; PhD University of Pittsburgh
Room 434 Carslaw
+61 2 9351 3856
Ofer Gal works on the coming into being of science as practice and culture during the 17th century and on the historical and philosophical foundations of its success since. He has written on the history of celestial mechanics and optics, on realism and constructivism, on Galileo, Kepler, Descartes, Hooke and Newton.
Most of Ofer’s publications in recent years come from his Baroque Science project, which explores the anxieties, dilemmas and paradoxical compromises that shaped the New Science in the 17th century’ and allowed its spectacular success. Currently he is working on two main projects. The first, ‘Passionate Knowledge’, studies the ethical and political ramifications of this success, concentrating on the place assigned to the passions – anger, fear, desire, wonder – as a basis for a naturalized conception of knowledge, from which emerged an ethics that reduced ‘good’ to ‘good for Man’ and political thought that stressed the primacy of sovereignty over law. The other, ‘global knowledge’, is a collaborative study of the ways in which the unprecedented global economic and cultural network developing during the 16-17th centuries brought about fundamental changes in practices and modes of knowledge in Asia and Europe.
Books and Special Issue
- Gal, O. and R. Chen-Morris, Baroque Science. Chicago: Chicago University Press (2012).
- Gal, O., Meanest Foundations and Nobler Superstructures: Hooke, Newton and the Compounding of the Celestiall Motions of the Planetts. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers (Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 2002).
- Gal, O. and R. Chen-Morris, Science in Baroque Culture. International Archives for the History of Ideas 209, Dordrecht: Springer Verlag (2012).
- Gal, O. and R. Chen-Morris, “Seeing the Causes: Optics and Epistemology in the Scientific Revolution.” Synthese 185.3 (2012).
- Gal, O. and C. Wolfe (eds.), The Body as Object and Instrument of Knowledge: Embodied Empiricism in Early Modern Science. New York: Springer Verlag (2010).
Papers and Chapters
- Gal, O., “From Divine Order to Human Approximation: Mathematics in Baroque Science.” In: Gal and Chen-Morris, Science in Baroque Culture (2012).
- Gal O. and R. Chen-Morris, “Nature’s Drawing.” Synthese 185.3 (2012): 429-466.
- Gal O. and V. Boantza: “The ‘Absolute Existence’ of Phlogiston: The Losing Party’s Point of View.” British Journal for the History of Science 44.3 (2011): 317–342.
- Gal,O. Baroque Optics and The Disappearance of the Observer: From Kepler's Optics to Descartes Doubt. Journal of the History of Ideas 71:2 (2010) 191-217.
- Gal, O. and R. Chen-Morris, “Empiricism Without the Senses: How the Instrument Replaced the Eye”. In: O. Gal and C. Wolfe (eds.): The Body as Object and Instrument of Knowledge. New York: Springer Verlag (2010): 121-148.
- Gal, O., “Controversies over Controversies: An Ontological Perspective on the Place of Controversy in Current Historiography.” In: Han-liang Wang and Marcelo Dascal (eds.), Controversies: East and West. Amsterdam: John Benjamins (2007): 267-280.
- Gal, O., “Hooke’s Programme: Final Thoughts.” In: Michael Hunter and Michael Cooper (eds.), Robert Hooke: Tercentennial Studies. Aldershot: Ashgate (2006): 33-48.
- Gal, O., “The Invention of Celestial Mechanics.” Early Science and Medicine 10.4 (2005): 529-534.
Gal, O., “Hooke, Newton, and the Trials of Historical Examination.” Physics Today (August 2004): 19-20.
- Gal, O., “Constructivism for Philosophers.” Perspectives on Science 10.4 (2003): 523-549.
Areas of teaching and supervision
- HPSC 2100: The Birth of Modern Science
- HPSC 3016: The Scientific Revolution
- HPSC 4101: Philosophy of Science
- HPSC 4103: Sociology of Science
- History of Early Modern Science;
- Philosophy of Science and Technology;
- 17th Century History of Ideas.
- ARC Discovery Projects:
“The Imperfection of the Universe: Music, Mathematics, Technology and the (Dis-) Order of Nature in Baroque Science” ($270,000 2006-2008)
- “The origins of scientific experimental practices: from the anatomical theatre to the conversations of the Royal Society” ($450, 000 2007-2010).
Key Thinkers Lecture Series
Other Professional Contributions
Ofer is the Vice-President of the Australasian Association for the History and Philosophy of Science (AAHPSSS).