Lecture on artisanal guidebooks by Thijs Hagendijk at the Descartes History of Science colloquium on 21 February
On 21 February the next Descartes Centre History of Science colloquium will be held, with lectures by Thijs Hagendijk and Iulian Toader (Senior Fellow at the Descartes Centre and Senior Researcher in the Philosophy Department at the University of Salzburg as of Summer 2017).
The lecture by Thijs Hagendijk is titled ‘Learning a craft from books. Reconstructions of a Dutch manual for gold- and silversmiths (1721)’. He will investigate the case of the Dutch silversmith Willem van Laar (1674-1722), who published a book entitled Guidebook for Arriving Gold- and Silversmiths (1721). Hagendijk found that the successful reader would need to have had a preliminary understanding of materials and their behaviour in order to use the book as a manual. This knowledge, which Van Laar does not touch upon, would have typically come from a master or a more advanced practitioner who, for instance, initiated the apprentice into the signs given by silver when it is hot enough for casting. He will argue that the Guidebook did not so much compete with apprenticeships, but rather depended on this system. This suggests that the textual transmission of artisanal knowledge outside the traditional institutions, did not necessarily imply that its application migrated out of these institutions as well.