Inner Experience : An Analysis of Scientific Experience in Early Modern Germany

Sammanfattning: In the last decades a number of studies have shed light on early modern scientific experience. While some of these studies have focused on how new facts were forced out of nature in so-called experimental situations, others have charted long-term transformations. In this dissertation I explore a rather different facet of scientific experience by focusing on the case of the Prussian university town Halle in the period from the late seventeenth till the mid-eighteenth century. At this site philosophers, theologians and physicians were preoccupied with categories such as inner senses, inner experience, living experience, psychological experiments and psychometrics. In the study I argue that these hitherto almost completely overlooked categories take us away from observations of external things to the internal organisation of experience and to entirely internal objects of experience. Rather than seeing this internal side of scientific experience as mere theory and epistemology, I argue that it was an integral and central part of what has been referred to as the cultura animi tradition, that is, the philosophical and medical tradition of approaching the soul as something in need of cultivation, education, disciplination and cure.The study contains four empirical chapters. In the first chapter I analyse the meaning and function of experience in Christian Wolff’s philosophy understood as spiritual exercise and cultura animi. In the second chapter I examine experience in the theologian Hermann Francke’s cultura animi, focusing particularly on the relation between scientific experience and what scholars have referred to as religious experience. In the third chapter I chart aesthetic experience in Alexander Baumgarten’s aesthetics. In the fourth chapter I examine the role of experience in the medicine of Georg Ernst Stahl, Friedrich Hoffmann and their followers. The analysis of medical experience channels the discussion into questions regarding the relation between the cultura animi tradition and the kind of attitudes, practices and processes that have been connected to modern objectivity.