May, 24th 2004

Dr. Daniela Bailer-Jones
Philosophy of science

Hoping for understanding:
Rationality and emotion

Homepage (german)

CV ° Daniela Bailer-Jones studied philosophy and physics at the universities of Freiburg, Oxford and Cambridge. There, she graduated with a Master of Physics in 1993 and earned her PhD on philosophy of science regarding the issue of "Scientific Models: A Cognitive Approach with an Application in Astrophysics" in 1997. Since then she works as scientific assistant at the universities of Paderborn and Bonn; she won a scholarship in the Emmy Noether Programm of the DFG (federal scientific research foundation) including a fellowship at the Center for Philosophy of Science at Pittsburgh university for one year. She presented her professorial dissertation "Tracing the Development of Scientific Models in Philosophy of Science" at the university of Bonn in 2003. The main focus of her research concerns human cognition in the applied sciences, especially procedures in the modelling of phenomena, the role of causality and mechanity in the process of interpreting phenomena, as well as the role of emotion in the context of motivations and decisions in scientific research.

Abstract ° Scientists have a longing for solving certain problems. This longing demands a high degree of motivation and obviously the hope of being able to solve the problem (which often struggles with expectations and times of disappointment). Solving successfully such a scientific problem is closely connected with further hope: hope for public acknowledgement and fame (e.g. the nobel prize), for a safe existence (a safe position, good working conditions), of improving the world (by finding a cure for AIDS, SARS, famine). Apart from these outer gratifications - which stand out - there are also "inner" gratifications. Connected to the solving of a certain problem is an emotional satisfaction, which has ealier served as motivation. Therefore, the well described scientific intuition has a strong emotional element without being irrational. On the contrary, rationality and emotion form a close relationship. I want to examine the hope and quest for understanding which not only scientists have to a great extent but finally all people. I examine the emotional elements of scientific hoping especially in regard to latest research results on the connection of emotion and rational actions.

Reading suggestions:
P. Thagard 2002. The passionate scientist: emotion in scientific cognition, in: P. Carruthers, S. Stich & M. Siegal (Hrsg.), /The Cognitive Basis of Science/, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, S. 235-250.

Lecture (.pdf, german)