Professor Van Damme’s research examines the origins of early modern scientific knowledge and European Culture between 1650 and 1850 by looking at essential elements overlooked by historians of science such as scientific centres (Paris, London, Edinburgh), founding fathers (Descartes), paradigmatic disciplines (philosophy, natural history, antiquarianism), imperial projects. New works continue in this perspective through three different comparative projects. The first deals with a pragmatic study of early modern philosophers at work in France and in Scotland. The second project addresses the issue of a geography and anthropology of Sceptical Knowledge in Europe, especially the orientalization of libertinism. The last project explores the nature of metropolis. By studying the physical history of metropolis, I embarked on research into scientific investigation on the metropolitan natural world in a comparative perspective (Paris, New York, London).
This research has given rise to three separate book projects:
- A toutes voiles vers la vérité. Une autre histoire de la philosophie au temps des Lumières (Paris, Le Seuil, 2014).
- Les voyageurs du doute. Une anthropologie des Libertins dans l'Europe moderne (Paris, Fayard, forthcoming 2016).
- Exploring the Natures of the Metropolis: Disciplines, Frontiers and Practices. Towards an Archaeology of Urban Ecology (1650-1850).