Leading idea of the Centre
What is the leading idea of the History of Science at the Centre? The picture that we chose as background of our homepage is taken from Richard Cumberland's De Legibus Naturae, published in London in 1672, one of the most influent books on natural law in the late seventeenth and eighteenth century. Cumberland, who was aware of the law-of-nature-debate that was going on at the Royal Society, adopted the concept of law as a fundament of his concept of sociability and moral theory. He then developed a series of physiological arguments against Hobbes. Man, as Cumberland's central argument goes, was able to act altruistically already by his physiological constitution which allows him to cooperate with other men in society. Cumberland based his anthropological ideas on the results of leading anatomists and physiologists who studied the human brain and the heart like Thomas Willis and Richard Lower. In other words, the perspective of the modern natural law theory opens to the idea of a global history of man and to the development of different societies, cultures, moral systems, arts and sciences etc. which obviously can only have their local faces and their own specific characters. But in the anthropological perspective science, medicine, morality, society, politics and institutions are interrelated and configure a set of problems which can be studied until our day.