Prof. Sébastien Gandon

June 1st - July31st, 2022

Affiliation: Blaise Pascal University (France)

Research for a study about:

Receptions of rationalism (1920-1950)

In the history of analytic philosophy, there are roughly two different narrative lines. One maintains that this history can be summarized in the succession of three stages: the birth in the works of Frege and Russell, the blossoming with the Vienna Circle, and the conquest of America after the Second World War. The other claims that the analytic tradition has more than one origin, either by making Frege and Russell themselves products of earlier transformations, or by pointing to other sources (the Brentanian school, Twardowski's disciples, etc.) than the Fregeo-russellian one.

In this research project, I intend to explore another model, whose main feature is not to take into account the plurality of origins, but that of receptions. I plan to study the receptions of Russell’s Call for developping a new scientific philosophy in four different cultural areas (marginal, when compared to the Vienna Circle) in the years 1915-40 : America (with Norbert Wiener), France (with Jean Nicod), Poland (with Leon Chwistek) and China (with Feng Youlan and Jin Yuelin).

Over the last thirty years, an important change has taken place in the historiography of the XVIIIth Century Enlightenment : the approach centered on the big authors and their works (Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hume, etc.) has gradually been replaced by an approach centered on the multiple receptions and appropriations of the new rationalism in various cultural areas. There has been no similar shift in the study of the rationalist movements of the first half of the Twentieth Century. Through my project, I would like to contribute to implementing a parallel shift in the historiography of analytic philosophy.




I came the first of June 2022 in Vienna for a two months fellowship at the IVC.
During the first month, I had to give two visio-talk : « Systematize to transmit? Remarks on Feng Youlan's History of Chinese philosophy », at the Social History of Logic and Historical Anthropology of Logic conference, EPHE, Paris, and « Logique et histoire chez Feng Youlan », at the « Atelier l’écriture philosophique à l’épreuve de la rencontre entre Chine et Occident », Paris Sorbonne. I also gave a talk at the Logic Cafe in Vienna on « Chwistek on axioms ». During the month of June, I also had several meetings (in visio) with my colleagues in France to prepare the next year, and I had two Master Committees (in visio).
At the end of June, I went to Ljubjlana to meet Jan Vhrovsky, an expert in the history of analytic philosophy in China, with whom I am working on a paper and on different projects. I also met Christian Damböck to explore the possibility of constructing an interactive map from the VALEP databasis.
In Vienna, I attended two talks : one on epsilon calculus from Richard Zach, the other on Wundt and Fechner from Chiara Russo Krauss. I also attended different visio-conferences during June and July (SSHAP conference, for instance).
In June and July, I also worked on my book about Russell’s « exotic » receptions. I have written the introduction and the first part. The writing of this book was the main reason of my stay in Vienna.