Simon holds a PhD in the history of science from the joint programme of the European University Institute (EUI, Florence) and the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS, Paris). His doctoral dissertation focused on the drafts and working papers belonging to two natural philosophers of the second half of the 17th century – Galileo’s last disciple Vincenzio Viviani in Florence and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in Hannover – and could be described as a work of historical anthropology of knowledge.
By addressing the ink-and-paper materiality of these supposedly purely intellectual operations that scatter the mechanical and physico-mathematical papers of Viviani and Leibniz, he aims at seizing knowledge and scholars in statu nascendi. Studying closely down to the most subtle details of the activity of the scholars’ hands on the paper of their notes, and with the support of anthropology, history of art, literature, or history of emotions, Simon hopes to flesh out anew a historical epistemology too conceptual and positivist still.
Now a postdoctoral researcher at the EPFL Laboratory for the history of science and technology, as well as teaching assistant in science and technology studies at Unige, Simon is pursuing his research in two main directions. First, and with the support of digital humanities at EPFL and Unil, he would like to build a database out of Vincenzio Viviani’s bounteous correspondence so as to partake in the current mapping of early-modern scholarly networks through digital visualisation.
Second, and reciprocally, he aims at enquiring about what our current form of rationality – i.e. computation understood as an episteme, or digitality as a cultural logic – owes to Leibniz’s quill-and-paper computational rationalism. Building on the recent interest for media studies and Medientheorie in the history of science, such an archæology of computational thinking would start from Leibniz and… Any advice much appreciated!