Philosophical Toys Today

Attractor: Tomáš Dvořák

Philosophical toys were objects designed to examine various scientific phenomena experimentally while provided popular amusement; they were simultaneously vehicles of scientific investigation and knowledge production, sources of puzzlement, entertainment and popularization for the lay public and stimuli eagerly adopted by many artists. Their heyday is the first half of the 19th century when they were applied widely in natural philosophy, although we can find many of their earlier precedents as well as later offspring. The panel will seek to find contemporary counterparts to these devices of extension of the senses (such as were kaleidoscopes, stereoscopes, thaumatropes or phenakistoscopes) that have the potential to break down the barriers between sciences, arts and popular culture, between theory and practice, between knowledge and amusement.

Biography: Tomáš Dvořák, Ph.D. is a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech republic and at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University in Prague. He focuses on philosophy and history of media and philosophy and history of science and on the intersections of these two fields.