Conference: Stevin Inside Out: New Perspectives on Simon Stevin (Amsterdam, 16-17 December 2016)

The Stevin Centre for History of Science and Humanities, founded in 2014, offers a platform for teaching and research in the history of science and the humanities at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and it organizes seminars, colloquia and workshops, see On 16 and 17 December 2016, the Stevin Centre together with Resesarch Institute CLUE+ organizes a two-day conference in Amsterdam devoted to the work of Simon Stevin.

The aim of the conference is to generate fresh views on Stevin’s work from a twofold perspective: on the one hand, contributors will take a closer look at Stevin’s ambitions, motives and methodologies. What did he aim to achieve ? What drove him ? How did he reason and work ? Papers deal with Stevin’s methodology, philosophy and mechanics as well as his work on language, music, education and political order. On the other hand, contributors will address the question: what made a polymath like Stevin possible ? What were the factors or circumstances under which someone like Stevin could flourish ? This second set of questions is comparative in nature. Papers examine the work and background of Giovanni Battista Benedetti, Thomas Harriot, Edward Wright, Cornelis Drebbel, Joseph Furttenbach and Christopher Polhem.

For more information and registration, please contact the organizing committee (

Event data

  • Conference “Stevin Inside Out: New Perspectives on Simon Stevin”
  • Dates: 16 and 17 December 2016
  • Venue : Stichting Notariële Wetenschap, Van Eeghenstraat 222, Amsterdam
  • Organized by the Stevin Centre for History of Science and Humanities, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and CLUE+ Research Institute +, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Provisional program

Friday 16 December


  • 09.30 – 10.00 Coffee
  • 10.00 – 10.15 Introduction (organisers)

Linkages: Methodology, philosophy and mechanics. Chair: Ida Stamhuis (Stevin Centre, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

  • 10.15 – 10.40 Fokko Jan Dijksterhuis (Centre for Studies of Science and Technology, Universiteit Twente/ Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) , ‘The wise origins of realistic mathematics: Stevin and the 16th-century debates on mathematics’
  • 10.40 – 11.05 Rienk Vermij (College of Arts and Sciences, University of Oklahoma), ‘Stevin and the mathematization of nature in the early seventeenth century’
  • 11.05 – 11.30 Maarten van Dyck (Sarton Centre for the History of Science, University of Ghent), ‘Stevin and the Archimedean revival of mechanics’
  • 11.30-11.55 MariusBuning(MaxPlanckInstitutfürWissenschaftsgeschichte,Berlin)‘Simon Stevin and the logic of invention’ ‘
  • 11.55 – 12.05 Comments by Floris Cohen (Descartes Centre, University of Utrecht) 12.05 – 13.00 Discussion
  • 13.00 – 14.00 Lunch

Afternoon: Linkages: Language, music, education and political order Chair: Fokko Jan Dijksterhuis

  • 14.00-14.25 MarijkevanderWal(UniversityofLeiden),‘SimonStevin’slinguistictheoryand practice in a contemporary context’
  • 14.25-14.50 FlorisCohen(DescartesCentre,UniversityofUtrecht),‘Musicaltheoryas conceived by the tone-deaf: Stevin compared with Beeckman and with young Descartes’
  • 14.50 – 15.15 Charles van den Heuvel (Huygens ING/ University of Amsterdam), ‘Simon Stevin: Natural order, classical authorities and education in the vernacular’
  • 15.15 – 15.40 Catherine Secretan (CNRS), ‘Politics in the vernacular: To what extent did the Vita politica . Het burghelick leven by Simon Stevin (1590) mark a break in mainstream politics at the end of the 16th century?’
  • 15.40 – 16.15 Tea and coffee break
  • 16.15 – 16.25 Comments by Sven Dupré (Descartes Centre, University of Utrecht) 16.25 – 17.15 Discussion
  • 17.15 – 18.30 Drinks
  • 19.00 – Dinner

Saturday 17 December


  • 09.15 – 9.30 Coffee

Comparisons Chair: Rienk Vermij

  • 09.30 – 09.55 Pietro Omodeo (Max Planck Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Berlin), ‘Giovanni Battista Benedetti, Renaissance mathematician and philosopher’
  • 09.55 – 10.20 Stephen Johnston (Museum for the History of Science, Oxford), ‘The Haven- Finding Art: Stevin and the English experience of navigation: Thomas Harriot and Edward Wright’
  • 10.20 – 10.45 Vera Keller (Clark Honors College, University of Oregon) ‘Cornelis Drebbel (1572-1633) and the autodidacts of Holland’
  • 10.45 – 11.10 Jan Lazardzig (University of Amsterdam), ‘On the idea of universalism in the writings of Joseph Furttenbach (1591-1667)’
  • 11.10 – 11.35 David Dunér (Lund University), ‘Christopher Polhem: The formation of a polymath’

Coffee break (15 minutes)

  • 11.50 – 12.00 Comments by Karel Davids (Stevin Centre, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) 12.00 – 12.50 Discussion
  • 12.50 – 13.00 Closing remarks by organisers
  • 13.00 – 14.00 Lunch