Research Projects

Prof. Danilo Marcondes de Souza Filho

The Revival of Ancient Scepticism in the Modern Period (in cooperation with Professor Sébastien Charles of Québec Trois-Rivières University)

Richard Popkin demonstrated in “The History of the Scepticism of Erasmus and Spinoza” the importance of the revival of Ancient Scepticism in the 15th and 16th centuries and its central impact on modern thought.

This research seeks to continue Popkin’s research programme opening up new paths and highlighting two lines:

The argument of the maker’s knowledge: there has been a fundamental change in modern epistemology in relation to the old, consisting of adopting “making” in modernity as a criterion of knowledge, thus seeking to render possible a new moderated scepticism, giving rise to an experimental and probabilistic conception of knowledge.

The anthropological argument: the history of philosophy has not attached importance to the discovery of the New World. This research, by contrast, seeks to demonstrate its importance, including in the formation of modern thought and the revival of ancient scepticism in this period, indicating a sceptical questioning of the universality of human nature based on the contact with native peoples.

Pragmatics and the Philosophy of Language

A discussion of the traditional division of the fields of study of language into syntax, semantics and pragmatics, examining the historical origins of this distinction and its epistemological and methodological presuppositions. Based on this initial discussion, a defense is proposed of a pragmatic conception of language. Proposals for the development of this conception will duly be examined, mainly based on the Wittgensteinian concept of the “game of language”, in the theory of speech acts of Austin and Searle, and in the conversational logic of H.P.Grice.

Prof. Déborah Danowski

Thoughts of decline (supported by CNPq, ongoing)

Since the 1990s, when a scientific consensus was formed regarding anthropogenic global warming, and the seriousness of the current environmental and civilizational crisis became increasingly evident, two opposing movements have formed in the discursive domain with ever greater clarity. While scientists publish ever more articles warning of the probability that, with the maintenance and even acceleration of the rate of human emissions of GHGs, life on earth will soon face a catastrophic situation, the use of expressions such as “the end of civilization”, “catastrophe”, “extinction” or even simply “degrowth” or “decline” have provoked in most people strongly adverse reactions, except when referring to ancestral catastrophes, to the end of other civilizations, or to the decline or extinction of non-human populations of living species. From the presupposition that the predominant economic system in modern societies is incompatible with degrowth one passes to the conclusion that degrowth or decrease cannot be a threat or even an option. That we can overcome any limitation. That we (human beings) cannot be in decline, and that for this reason a present or future catastrophe cannot be real. It is said that the ecological crisis simply does not exist, or that it does exists but is not all that serious, since it will undoubtedly be resolved in time by our rulers, who are always attuned to the latest technological developments.

On the other hand, we have seen a growing number of academic and extra-academic discourses, announcing something that seemed, until now, excluded from the historic or human horizon: the imminent end of our civilization or even of our species, imagined as a consequence of a sudden planetary catastrophe, or as a progressive and inexorable process of degradation of the conditions of its existence, in force during the whole Holocene, to the point of rendering our near-future radically unpredictable, or even unimaginable outside the realms of science fiction or messianic scatologies. Particularly in philosophy, one could go back to the 1950s-1960s with Anders and his profound reflections regarding the threat of nuclear holocaust, but one could also cite more recent authors such as Latour and Stengers, among several others, who have been thematizing ever more openly the probability that we will soon face a catastrophic environmental, economic, political and social situation, not to mention the recent emergence of sophisticated metaphysical arguments (as in the case of some authors associated with “speculative realism”) which, even when they don’t directly mention the ecological crisis, are, in my view, strongly influenced by an awareness of this crisis, inasmuch as they propose a speculative overcoming of the world-for-man, in order to reach the objects themselves, a “world-without-us”, or an overcoming of the world-as-meaning, so as to encounter Being qua pure exteriority indifferent to thought and life in general.

The more general aim of this project is to take seriously these multiple discourses about the end of the world, treating them as thought experiences about the shift of the Western anthropological adventure towards decline, which is to say, as attempts to invent a mythology appropriate to our present.

Nature’s nature (concluded)

The aim of this project is, on the one hand, to seek to evaluate the predominant meanings that the notion of nature has assumed in the contemporary, neo-liberal and globalized world, and how these meanings contribute to the profound planetary ecological crisis; and, on the other hand, to seek, in philosophical thought or in related disciplines, alternative, non-essentialist and pluralist meanings, that might allow us to see possible ways out of the crisis.

Leibniz and the notion of perspective (financed by the CNPq, concluded)

This project has two main objectives: 1) to undertake a systematic and in-depth study of the concepts of perspective and viewpoint in the works of Leibniz. 2) and to demonstrate that there is a difference, and also a relationship, between the two main approaches where these concepts appear: that of the different perspectives of the world as constitutive of the different created substances, and that of the different perspectives as constituting the various phenomenic levels of material reality.

The typology of souls in Leibniz (supported by CNPq, concluded)

The broader aims of the project are to investigate the tripartite typology of souls conducted by Leibniz in some central texts of his maturity, and to relate this typology to the thesis of the unpredictable nature of the existence of confused and obscure perceptions in the three types of souls. The immediate aim is to analyse the relationship and the frontier between two axes of infinitude that appear to characterize, in different ways, the three types of substances: what I will call the horizontal axis, which characterizes the specific point of view of each substance (and which should, for this reason, be present in all of them), and a vertical axis, which, according to Leibniz, is only to be found in spirits, capable of self-reflexive series that increasingly elevate us “above ourselves”.

Perfection and temporality in Leibniz (supported by CNPq, concluded)

The aim is to investigate the relation, in Leibniz’s mature thought, between the notions of perfection and temporality, both “extrinsically” – by analysing the model of historicity that he derives from the hypothesis of a Universal Return or Restitution of substances through ascendant temporal cycles – and “intrinsically”–  by analysing his conception of a temporality (cyclical or not cyclical) that is supposed inseparable from the process of refinement of substances themselves.

Prof. Edgar de Brito Lyra Netto

The role of philosophical interrogation in the technical age

The research is organized around the role of philosophical thought in an increasingly technical world, the setting for ever more substantial and faster transformations, that are unpredictable and may be irreversible in their developments. More precisely, it is concerned with the potential development of interfaces between philosophy and contemporary society, with a view to subjecting the latter to the necessary interrogations regarding the meaning of its current development. It will be interpreted, in summary, with ethical, political and pedagogic injunctions, and having as references Martin Heidegger and Hannah Arendt (discussion on the current technological hegemony), and the Rhetoric of Aristotle (review of the possibilities and ways of sharing philosophical thought).

Science, nature, information and knowledge (concluded)

Coordination: Maria José Carneiro (CPDA/UFRRj) and Rejan Bruni (PUC-Rio/JBRJ)
Associate: Edgar Lyra (PUC-Rio)

The increasing recourse to scientific and technical arguments in the consolidation and legitimation of decisions in the sphere of political practice has presented a new challenge to society, which has directly affected the field of the production of knowledge and the elaboration of public policy, namely the need to create mechanisms that facilitate and accelerate communication between the production of knowledge and decision makers in the public sphere. The speed with which scientific consensuses are re-established based on an increasingly massive and complex production of knowledge adds huge difficulties to this process of communication. How can we deal with the breadth and complexity of this production, including the knowledge of local populations and, at the same time, make it accessible to the makers of decisions regarding laws and measures that directly affect society? How can we strengthen the mechanisms of communication between one sphere and another, in such a manner as to offer the broadest possible range of alternatives based on consolidated and duly demonstrated knowledge? What is the knowledge mobilized by managers of public policies (or decision-makers) and what are the access routes to such sources? To what extent is the empirical validation of the knowledge produced by the (political) action effectively explained, evaluated and taken into account by the formulators of public policy? These are some of the questions that will drive the researchers of this group to investigate the relationships between man and nature, in a multi-disciplinary approach.

Anthropological implications of the environmental debate

This research project involves two movements. The first concerns the contemporary context in which the so-called “environmental debate” was institutionalized. This first movement was prompted by the highlighting of the current non-existence of a more substantial debate about man as an entity whose needs must be prioritarily and imperfectly satisfied, in a sustainable manner from the present. The second aim is to infuse this debate, as organically as possible, with questions posited based on the work of Martin Heidegger. The intention is not to claim any definitive truth for this philosopher regarding man and his rights in relation to the cosmos, but rather to find means of promoting weekly debates within the current sphere of needs and promises.

Prof. Edgard José Jorge Filho

Theoretical philosophy and practical philosophy in Kant

The aim is enable the continuity of the investigation into aspects of the Theoretical Philosophy and Practical Philosophy of Kant, particularly its foundations, as well as researching the relationships between these two parts of the Kantian philosophical system.

Ethics and the environmental issue

The objective is to investigate whether there are appropriate ethical models for evaluating and reorienting man’s relationship with the environment, which has been characterized up to now by a highly predatory use of natural resources, creating an unprecedented environmental crisis which represents a grave threat to the future. Recognizing such models, the intention is to identify their presuppositions and examine the justifications thereof. To begin with, we might propose as candidates the Ethics of Responsibility, of Hans Jonas, and the variants of Ecocentric Ethics.

Prof. Irley Franco

Aristotle’s theses on epic and tragic poetry in the Poetics

The aim of the project is to undertake an analysis of the theory of the tragic genre proposed by Artistotle in the Poetics, based on its most important commentators and interpreters and, at the same time, compare the results of this research with a detailed examination of the texts of the tragic and epic poets of Greek Antiquity. The research involves an exhaustive study of key notions for the understanding of Aristotelian theory, such as mythos, catharsis, mimesis, tykhe, praxis, hamartia, etc., and the identification of these elements in Greek literary works, always referring back to the original Greek. Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, the tragedy considered exemplary by Aristotle himself, and Homer, the father both of tragedy and comedy, are taken in this research as reference points for the study of all the other works related to the subject. The project brings together research projects developed by post-graduate teachers and students; it is the subject of the author’s post-doctorate and has given rise to numerous courses, and various theses and dissertations.

Plato and Platonism

One of the central problems regarding the study of Plato is being able to distinguish his philosophy from the many interpretations made of it over the centuries, since Plato is not simply a historical reference to the time when everything began, but rather the point of origin to which all philosophy actively refers. The aim of this project is to distinguish the “philosophy of Plato” from “Platonism”, which is to say, from the way that the History of Philosophy has understood and transmitted, throughout the centuries, the “written” work of Plato, given that Platonism is a specific representation of the philosophy of Plato which does not appear to contradict the content of the dialogues themselves. As the subject is very extensive, I propose in this initial approach to address two characteristics attributed to the philosophy of Plato that, in my view, have served to produce a series of misunderstandings regarding the content of the dialogues: doctrinarism and dogmatism. Doctrinaire in this context means all thinking sustained by a series of precepts that are stated to be true and that, as such, seek to constitute a closed system, capable of providing definitive answers to questions presented to it. Dogmatic, by contrast, means thought that, in addition to being doctrinaire, bases its doctrines on certain dogmas, which is to say, on certain fundamental and incontestable truths.

The most crass error committed by certain forms of Platonism is found in interpretations which base their conclusions on the philosophy of Plato only on the dialogues of the mature phase (the Republic, Banquet, Phaedo etc.), thus reducing all the philosopher’s thinking to a single aspect of his work. My aim is not to address this stereotyped Plato, although this stereotype has become historically real, inasmuch as much later philosophy will develop based precisely thereon. My aim, rather, is firstly to address a slightly more delicate problem which concerns a certain tradition constructed by Plato scholars themselves who consider the theory of ideas as being the central issue of the dialogues and who thus suppose that Plato’s primary intention was to transmit to his readers this theory as kind of lesson which, once learned, would enable them to find final answers about reality, knowledge, political and moral life, etc., and not what the dialogues as a whole show to be more likely, tentatively demonstrating how a refined and intelligent approach is developed to this examination, life itself and the world, through the communal and, if you like, dialogical exercise of thought.

Prof. Ludovic Soutif

Reference and thought: a critical investigation of singularism (ongoing; supported by CNPqBolsa PQ)

This project is a continuation of the previous one. Its purpose is to critically investigate various proposals in defence of singularism, which is to say, of the theory according to which not all our thoughts about the world are general or qualitative, some of them being directly and genuinely about particular objects. We shall seek to defend singularism in the light of the objections of the generalists. However, it is not sufficient to defend them through general philosophical arguments. It is necessary to establish the greater plausibility of singularism in relation to the most hotly debated questions today at the interface between theories of reference and thought. Among which, that of knowing if it is sufficient that the content (of the thought) be singular for the mental episode itself to be so; that of the legitimacy of the immediate inferences of the reference to the singular thought; that of the existence or otherwise of natural semantic and cognitive species; that of the need for the dispensability of epistemic requirements such as that of acquaintance, of the discriminatory knowledge of the object by the subject; or even of the nature of the cognitive mechanisms involved in the formation of singular representations of objects.

Singular thought: semantic, metaphysical and cognitive aspects (concluded; supported by CNPq-Edital Universal bid 14/2012 and by PUC-Rio with a Productivity Grant in Teaching and Research)

The question of the nature of our thoughts about the world is at the centre of many debates today in analytical philosophy at the interface between philosophies of language, of the mind and of logic, metaphysics and epistemology. One aspect of the debate concerns the counterpoint between singular and general (descriptive) thoughts. These are commonly defined as thoughts about particulars as particulars (X instantiators of properties). There is controversy about what makes a thought singular. There are those (indeed, a whole tradition of thinkers in the wake of the theorists of reference) who think that they should be explained in terms of the relationship to singular content in the sphere of a metaphysical theory of propositions. There are others (e.g. Crane, Azzouni, Jeshion) who prefer to explain the phenomenon in cognitive or psychological terms. There are still others (e.g. Recanati) who seek to combine both types of explanation. My aim, in this research project, is to contribute to the debate by pursuing an approach to the phenomenon (of singular thought) that incorporates the different aspects highlighted by these attempts at an explanation.

Varieties of logical expressivism (ongoing)

This project concerns the history of the analytical philosophy of logic. The aim is to highlight and critically study possible versions of the theory according to which logic has a primarily expressive function. There is Brandom’s version, according to which the role of logic (which is to say, the language of the logic of the predicates of first order, enriched by the locutions that seek to explain the representational content of propositional attitudes) is to codify the norms implicit in our practices for applying concepts. But there is another little studied version of the same thesis sketched by Frege and by the Wittgenstein of the Tractatus. According to this, the task of logic is to articulate our pre-understanding of the logical characteristics of the expressions involved in the recognition thereof as being of such and such a type through the traces of formal language used to represent them. This physiognomic conception of the logical identity of linguistic expressions plays an important role, for example, in the Fregean theory of the logical identity of conceptual expressions and also in the resolution of the problem of the inexpressible character of the logical category of a term in the Tractatus. These are the authors used to highlight this unequalled variety of logical expressivism: Anscombe, Geach, Dummett e Diamond.

Prof. Luisa Severo Buarque de Holanda

Literary Genres in Plato

Taking as a starting point the antinomy of nature x convention, in its peculiar relationship with the subject of the origin of words and the creation of language, the Cratylus dialogue offers us an excellent example, in Plato, of what was conventionally termed literary response. Through an accommodation between the subject proposed and the strategy for addressing it, the philosopher ends up incorporating – and at the same time modifying – a series of literary genres that have already become established, and another series of still emerging genres, thus creating his own literary genre, to which we largely owe the philosophical language as we use it today. The recognition of this factor allows for the creation of a highly specific methodological approach, regarding the interpretation of Plato’s work. This involves approaching the dialogues through their literary references and allusions to the works, philosophical or otherwise, of other major authors of the Hellenic tradition, combined with a detailed and careful investigation of their compositional structure. Every Platonic work can be analyzed through this prism, and such analyses are not only fruitful in themselves, but can be of great help regarding a more purely philosophical reading of Platonic text and subtext. In summary, it will be shown that the most characteristic authorial strategies of the different genres are adopted and reinvented by the author Plato and, moreover, that the importation of such strategies to the philosophical literary body had important implications for the parlance of philosophy itself, and for the history of philosophical reflection on the theme of language.

The History of the Philosophy of Language in Antiquity (with an Incentive Grant for Productivity in Teaching and Research from PUC-Rio)

This project seeks, above all, to retrace the course of the investigations into themes related to the language of Greek Antiquity, starting with fragments of pre-Socratic thinkers such as Heraclitus, Parmenides and Democritus, and proceeding to Platonic dialogues such as the Cratylus, the Sophist and the Aristotelian Organon, and culminating in stoic philosophy. The research is intended to highlight both the thematic heritage and methodological innovations that have arisen in the cited time period, and among the aforementioned thinkers. From the word and its relationship to the things designated, to propositional semantics and the question of truth and falsity in discourse, the pertinence of the subjects related to language becomes greater the more one perceives that, in Greek thought, it is never unrelated to the different ontologies and politics that provide its foundation.

Practices and theories of poetics in ancient Greece: from Parmenides to Aristotle 

An international cooperation project between the Laboratory Research Group OUSIA: Studies in Classical Philosophy (registered at the DGP of CNPq) with four other Brazilian research centres in ancient philosophy and the Centre Léon Robin da École Normale Supérieure / University of Paris IV to research the origins of Western philosophy. In addition to a historical-philosophical perspective limited to facts, characters and schools, the project seeks to reflect on the transformations wrought on the plane of language, to produce original discursive and cognitive modes of Western philosophy. The focus is not doctrines or personal proximities (in time and space), but rather forms, genres and strategies of discourse. The understanding that philosophy originated in the midst of sapiential experiences, through the traditional forms of poetry, such as the epic, and new forms that arose in the sixth and fifth centuries before Christ, such as comedy and tragedy, requires that special attention be paid to literary genres with their rhetorical and poetic strategies of expression. Objectives of the Accord: 1. To forge closer ties regarding philosophical research, debate and production among researchers from the French laboratories Centre Léon Robin and “E.A. 4081 Rome et ses renaissances” (Univ. Paris-Sorbonne-Paris IV and École Normale Supérieure) and the Brazilian laboratories OUSIA (UFRJ), NFA (UFF), NOESIS (UERJ), ARCHAI (UnB) and NUFA (PUC-Rio), based on common activities such as: 1. Reflecting on the themes of the history of ancient philosophy, the staging of events, the editing of specialist magazines, the publication of books and articles, and artistic-educational productions. 2. Forming teams (doctoral and post-doctoral researchers) capable of philosophically and philologically addressing the texts of ancient philosophers at the highest scientific and academic level. Seeking to establish co-tutorships for doctoral students and lines of continuity for their research. 3. Researching the theories and practices of ancient forms of sapiential expression, particularly reflections focussing on the poetics and theories of knowledge. Investigating and discussing the repercussion of the different discursive influences on philosophy: cosmogonic epic poems, dramatic debates, forensic disputes; and also allowing for the apprehension of the originality of new philosophical experiences: the power of argument, conceptual universalization, categorical syntax etc. Highlighting the response to the ancient philosophers throughout history and their contributions to the modern world. 4. Producing critical apparatus, translations and philosophical reflections on the texts of ancient philosophy and its sources. Publishing and disseminating, through printed and hypertextual media, the base-texts and everything produced around them, especially the translations.

Theories of causality and human action in ancient Greek philosophy

The notion of cause plays a central role in the philosophical investigation of Antiquity. From the pre-Socratics to late Greek philosophy, the object of investigation has always been not only what is the cause of something but also, and fundamentally, what do we wish to understand by something’s being the cause of something. There is a close link in Greek philosophy between a doctrine of causality, directed particularly at the physical world, and that of moral responsibility, that is central to the human domain of action. While in the language of Ancient Greece this close relationship is visible, since aitios designates who is responsible for something, prioritarily in the negative legal sense of who is “guilty” of something; however, the use of language soon expanded the negative sense of guilt to a general sense of responsibility, which also encompasses cases to be praised, and to this first expansion in the use of the term is added another, of a now clearly philosophical nature, which especially applies to the notion of aitia and which separates it from the non-human domain, applying it to all things, which creates our familiar sense of “cause”, “what produces or is at the origin of something”. The general notion of cause, which is particularly decisive in the discourse on nature, will, nevertheless, forever retain this link with the notion of responsibility in human action, where, moreover, it has its origin. This project is intended to study the different proposals and theses presented by the ancient Greek philosophers regarding the nature of cause and, closely related to this theme, it also seeks to map a reflection on human action and on the way man can be identified as the cause of certain events, namely, as the cause of his own actions.

Prof. Luiz Camillo Osorio

Judge, critic and curator: dislocations of art in the age of museums (ongoing; supported by CNPQ – PQ Grant)

Every day a new museum appears on the planet. Art fairs and biennales multiply everywhere. In a world devastated by global financial crisis, art has proven to be an asset with exorbitant rates of return. Has art resisted this systematic appropriation and retained some aesthetic potency and political dissidence? Is it still capable of producing “aesthetic ideas”? Has it, at the barest level, resisted the absolute standards of the market? Does it still make sense to discuss or defend any autonomy for art and the aesthetic experience? What can art do? The relationship between aesthetics and politics has shaped the history of modern art, either through the difficulties related to the judging of art, or through the repeated rejection, by art, of current forms of visibility and sociability. Our objective will be to analyse the conditions of judgment and criticism, and their curatorial consequences at a time when art is irreversibly inserted into museums – even when it operates outside their walls – and when these appear at the service of spectacular logic, untrammelled consumption and the industries of culture and tourism. How can we resist this appropriation and give art some experimental freedom? How can we connect art to an aesthetic and political education within museums?

The spaces of criticism and the horizons of politics in modern and contemporary art (concluded in 2016)

This research is intended to investigate how a systematic disorientation in relation to what might be called a ‘work of art’ led, throughout the 20th century, to a redefinition of the role of the critic and to an apparent suspension of judgment. The point I am interested in discussing – in opposition to such a suspension – is the connection between this a priori not knowing what art is, and the need to judge; the fact that anything can be art does not imply that everything becomes art. What produces this difference is the judge’s capacity for discernment, which is always applied within specific territories of meaning. A first stage of this research resulted in the publication of the book Razões da Crítica (Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2005). Now I want to expand the discussion of notions of judgment and criticism – in Kant, Schiller, Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt, Jacques Rancière and Thierry De Duve –, and try to rethink the relationships between art and politics in the contemporary scene. Articles based on this subject will be written and eventually published in a book containing all the material produced.

Prof. Luiz Carlos Pinheiro Dias Pereira

Truth and modality from a constructive point of view (supported by CNPq)

From the end of the 1970s, the leading semantic constructivists began to consider the convenience/necessity of a constructive notion of truth. This constructive notion of truth should satisfy three basic conditions: [1] Be constructive, [2] not be reducible to the notion of justified assertibility, and [3] be objective. The main aim of the project is to critically investigate some proposals for a constructive concept of truth and the constructive approach to modal concepts of necessity and possibility.

Identity of proofs (supported by CNPq)

The main aim of the project is to critically investigate the principal criteria proposed for the problem of the identity of proofs. We shall demonstrate that the well-known categorical collapse can be obtained for intuitionist logic through the introduction of a new reduction procedure for natural deduction. Indeed this reduction operation presents us with a dilemma: completeness X the sub-formula principle.

Prof Maura Iglésias

Methexis and mimesis in Plato (supported by CNPq)

The relationship between the sensible and intelligible is described by Plato at one moment as a “participation” of the sensible in the intelligible, and at another as the sensible being an “image” of the intelligible. These two models of relationship between the sensible and the intelligible are generally seen as equivalent, largely due to the testimony of Aristotle, who affirms, in Met. A6, that Plato used (apparently to speak of the relationship between ideas and sensible things) the term methexis for that which Pythagoras called mimesis, when speaking of the relationship between numbers and things. However, the differences between the notions of participation and image do not go unnoticed by modern commentators, which have perhaps exaggerated these differences, drawing conclusions that were not accepted, wholly or partially, by many of the most important commentators. The research hereby proposed is to investigate, based on an analysis of the most important Platonic texts where the subject of the relationship between the sensible and intelligible appears, the connotations of both models used by Plato to speak about this relationship. This investigation will undoubtedly require a careful reading of several of the most important dialogues that are pertinent to all the considered “phases” of Platonic thought. In parallel, once the connotations of the notions of mimesis that assign it an important role in Platonic ontology have been clarified, it is hoped that we may arrive at interesting results regarding Plato’s relationship with the arts (fine arts). The expected result is a series of articles that will be presented at events and, in principle, published; also, in view of the extent of the subject, that literally spans the entire Platonic oeuvre, we will probably have material for a book on the subject.

Plato and mathematics (supported by CNPq, in the sphere of CNPq bid notice 32/2004)

The influence of mathematics on Plato’s thought is well known, both regarding the formation of his investigative method, and the application of knowledge and mathematical procedures to his great theses. All of them, indeed, were probably considered by him as hypotheses, as in mathematics. The aim of the project is to bring together different studies that are already being developed by post-graduate teachers and students of the Centre of Studies of Ancient Philosophy of PUC-Rio, which, though different from each other, have as a common axis the study of mathematical knowledge at the time of Plato, the use that he made of such knowledge, the extent of Plato’s mathematical knowledge itself, and perhaps contributions that he himself and other contemporary researchers of the Academy made to advance the knowledge then considered as mathematics, which included music and astronomy. The individual projects address different aspects of these issues, which concern not only Plato’s written work but also his so-called oral doctrine. Thus, in addition to an analysis of the pertinent Platonic texts, and of their more important commentators, the project encompasses analysis (and criticism) of the relevant Aristotelian texts for the reconstitution of Plato’s oral doctrine as well as an analysis of the texts of ancient mathematics (not necessarily contemporaneous with Plato), together with their scholars and commentators. The results of the research will be presented in seminars throughout the year, in which all the members of the team, and guests, will participate. In addition to this, as part of this project, we have arranged to invite to our Ancient Philosophy Forum, a permanent feature of our Studies Centre, scholars of ancient mathematics and its relationships with philosophy, to present the results of their research. We hope to produce interesting material for the publication of a book on the subject, comprising the studies of our team and guest researchers.

Prof. Maxime Rovere

Spinoza. Translation, annotation and presentation of the complete works

For over ten years, the project for the renewal of the presentation of the texts and thought of Spinoza took the form of a gradual translation of his works, which began with the letters (Correspondance, GF, 2010), and whose theoretical aspect was supported by a monographic study (Spinoza, Méthodes pour exister, Edições CNRS). Developed in French with a French editor (Flammarion), this study continues in Brazil and has been enriched in this new phase by the assumption of new interpretative directions.

Our translation of the Ethics, still in preparation, is intended to give rise to a work of collective annotation designed to highlight the different approaches to the text. This will be done both in terms of the logic and social history of science, and in the light of individual biography and religious, political and academic institutions.

This reading should prompt a renewed reading of the text. Indeed, the mathematical order suggests that ethics is unequivocal, which is to say, that the definitions, propositions and demonstrations – and, to a lesser extent, the scholia – all have a truly mathematical value. This order also suggests that the ideas form a complete system of synchronic truths, and that the consistency of the so-called “system” is based on the full compatibility of its parts.

This project is firstly intended to develop the polyphonic and dialogical dimension of the text. Spinoza uses different lexicons that suggest varied modes of discourse, from strict logic to simple narratives or mundane conversations. This polyphony rejects the standardization of the text and helps in the resolution of many difficulties. On the other hand, in opposition to the idea that all theses are simultaneously valid, we can then study how the text, which was written over more than fourteen years, forms a diachronic path that consists of successive stages whose continuity is dynamic.

The rationalists in Amsterdam in the 17th century. Towards a new history of “modernity”

In Radical Enlightenment (2001), Jonathan Israel transformed the history of modernity, proposing the transference of the “Enlightenment” movement to Amsterdam in the 1660s. Following on from this proposition, this research project examines the positions of those that Wiep Van Bunge more correctly called the “Francs-Tireurs”, due to the diversity of their approaches and the fact that they ended up “firing” at each other.

This project seeks to study the exchanges between iatrochemists, anatomists, entomologists and metaphysicians (Nicolaus Steno, Dirk Kerckrinck, Jan Swammerdam, Bento Spinoza); encompassing dictionaries, encyclopaedias and political projects (Lodewijk Meyer Franciscus van den Enden, Adrian Koerbagh); and, finally, Christian and Jewish theologists (Adam Boreel, Galeno, Abrahamsz, Uriel da Costa, Juan de Prado). The circulation of ideas through different forms enables us to rethink the birth of modernity.

Finally, this project intends to use the tools of globalized history to consider Brazil’s contribution to the development of a modernity conceived as “European”, particularly examining the importance of exchanges in the marketplace and the history of voyages to theology and modern metaphysics, with special attention given to the Jewish community in Recife and the experience of inter-colonial war.

Aesthetics of dislocation

The research group “Aesthetics of dislocation”, directed by Maxime Rovere (PUC-Rio) and Olga Kempinska (UFF), is intended to promote inter-institutional and interdisciplinary discussion of artistic experiences marked by deterritorialization and translingualism. As such, the group seeks to devote itself to organizing different activities that can stimulate debates about the specificity of the poetics marked by linguistic alterity, the production of meaning by different languages, the response to texts in foreign languages and translatability. The debate about the specificity of visual aesthetics marked by the otherness of heterogeneous traditions will also be encouraged. In this regard, the organization of events, and the publication of articles and books related to the subject of the aesthetics of dislocation also seeks to contribute to the training of graduate and post-graduate students.

Prof. Oswaldo Chateaubriand Filho

Themes in the philosophy of logic, the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mathematics (supported by CNPq)

My research project for this and the next few years derives from research presented in my books Logical Forms. Part I: Truth and Description (2001) and Logical Forms. Part II: Logic, Language, and Knowledge (2005). Many themes addressed in these books deserve further development, and some of them have preoccupied me in recent years and continue to preoccupy me in the present.

  1. Theory of descriptions. In chapter 3 of Logical Forms, I presented a new theory of defined descriptions that combines ideas of Frege and Russell. In the articles, “Descriptions: Frege and Russell combined” (2002) and “Deconstructing “On Denoting”” (2005), I elaborated some aspects of the theory. Also, at some conferences, particularly at the conference “A Theory of Descriptions”, presented in the Logic Colloquium at the University of Califórnia at Berkeley in 2006, I began to develop an extension of the theory to plural descriptions, which is a highly complicated problem that I intend to elaborate in more detail.
  2. Meaning, reference and connotation. In chapters 11 and 13 of Logical Forms, I present a theory of meanings inspired by Frege, which combines ideas of Kripke on reference and descriptive ideas of Russell and others on collaboration. I have elaborated these ideas at various conferences in recent years and also in the article “The truth of thoughts: variations on Fregean themes” (2007, at the printer’s). A continuation of this article entitled “Sense, reference, and connotation”, is planned for publication in Manuscrito later this year.
  3. Predication, truth, falsity and negation. In chapters 1, 6 and 12 of Logical Forms, I present a theory of truth as the denotation of states of things and a theory of predication according to which every sentence has a predicative structure. This allows for a characterization of the falsity of a sentence as a truth of the predicative negation of this sentence. These ideas have also been developed a little more in the article “The truth of thoughts: variations on Fregean themes” and form part of the project on falsity and negation of PROCAD between PUC-Rio, UFSM and UFC.
  4. Discussion of the second volume of Logical Forms. In 2004 a special edition of Manuscrito was published (volume 27 -1) with 11 critical articles on the first volume of Logical Forms and my detailed responses. Another special edition of Manuscrito is being prepared (for publication at the start of 2008) on the second volume of Logical Forms, with approximately 20 critical articles and my responses. This will undoubtedly lead me to rethink and elaborate on many issues addressed in my book.
  5. Philosophy of mathematics. It was always my intention to develop my ideas on the philosophy of mathematics. Important questions regarding the philosophy of mathematics are addressed in different chapters of Logical Forms, especially chapters 9, 10, 19, 20, 21 and 25, and also in the article “Platonism in mathematics” (2005). I intend to develop these ideas in greater detail in a complementary volume to the volumes of Logical Forms, on which I am already working. Prof. Paulo Cesar Duque-Estrada

Criticism of representation: Heidegger and Derrida

Exploring the various aspects involved in the Derridean response to the criticism of representation found in Heidegger’s journey towards “thinking of Being”, in contrast to the order of the “calculus”.

Subjectivity and criticism of the subject

Based on the thinking of deconstruction (and some of its influences: Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, Levinas) this project is intended to explore the philosophical and ethical-political implications of a dislocation proposed regarding the centrality of the subject, not with the aim of erasing it, but of conceiving of the “relationship to itself” – as a fragmented, non-self-identical heterogeneous structure – as something that concerns everything. “Subjectivity”, thus, ceases to be an exclusive characteristic of “humans”.

Deconstruction of language and writing: paths towards another politics

The aim of this research is to explore the relationship between the deconstruction of the concept of language found in Derrida’s early texts, notably Grammatology, and the singular way in which the dimension of politics is shaped throughout his work.

Prof. Pedro Duarte de Andrade

The essay as form in contemporary philosophy

Better known as a form of cultural commentary, the genre of the essay has become essential to philosophical work in the 20th and 21st centuries, as well has having been explicitly analyzed as such by authors like Georg Lukács, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno and Michel Foucault. The style of the essay, personal and alert to its own language, results in experimental thinking, without the exhaustive systematization of knowledge; attuned to singularities, in opposition to logical universalization; with interpretations without absolute but rather relative originality; and a preference for the analysis of works of art as critical examples of society. The objective of this project is threefold: to analyze the style of the essay as philosophical prose; to map its principal contemporary expressions; and to investigate the historical context that has rendered it central to current philosophy.

Philosophy, literature and art

The aim of this project is to analyze the importance of art, particularly literature, to philosophy, and to describe how this productive meeting between them has occurred based on singular cases of philosophers who thought like artists and artists who inspired philosophers. If philosophy has addressed literature, like Plato with Homer, and interpreted it, like Hegel with Sophocles, literature in turn has also reflected on philosopher, as in the case of Hölderlin with Heidegger. Above all, since Romanticism, literature has become more than an illustration for the theories of philosophers. Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault and others have thought about literature, with it and through it. Contact between philosophy and art has been decisive to contemporary and critical thought, which highlights the philosophical nature of literature and the literary nature of philosophy.

Anthropophagic philosophy

Taken in general as an explanation of Brazilian culture, the idea of anthropophagy, formulated by Oswald de Andrade in the 1920s, can be understood as a philosophy, which is to say, as a way of thinking based on an ontology from which derive an epistemology, an aesthetic, an ethics and a philosophy of history. The aim of this project is to explain this anthropophagic philosophy, which argues for the transformation of oneself by the other, and not the transformation of another by oneself. This will be done through analysis of the Brazilian modernist doctrine and the work of Oswald de Andrade, including his philosophical texts; the sources implied therein, such as Montaigne, Marx and Freud; its origin in the indigenous practice of cannibalism; and its influence on thought in the songs of Caetano Veloso and the art of Hélio Oiticica.

Prof. Renato Matoso Brandão

Unity and multiplicity in the ontology of the later dialogues of Plato: a new interpretation for “an ocean of arguments”.

This research intends to offer an original interpretation of the ontology proposed in the last dialogues of Plato, above all by the eleatic figures of Parmenides (presented in the homonymous dialogue) and his companion identified only as the Stranger (presented in the Sophist and Political dialogues). According to the hypothesis that will orient this research, the Parmenides dialogue marks the abandonment of an ontology founded on the radical separation and the absolute unity of Forms. This abandonment is dramatically represented by the criticism of the Theory of Ideas presented in this dialogue and by the progressive disappearance of Socrates as the principal character for the transmission of Platonic metaphysical theories.

In order to achieve this interpretation, I firstly intend to undertake a minute analysis of the deductions contained in the second part of the Parmenides dialogue. This analysis will provide the conceptual material necessary to demonstrate that this set of deductive arguments has an ongoing relationship with the criticisms of the Theory of Ideas that we find in the first part of the dialogue, and must be understood as the refinement and deepening of these criticisms. My aim is to demonstrate how all the paradoxes present in the Parmenides dialogue are consequences of a single problem related to the Theory of Ideas proposed by the character of Socrates in the Platonic dialogues, namely: the attribution of the separateness and absolute unity of Forms.

At a subsequent stage of the research, I shall analyze how the character of the Stranger presents, in the Sophist and Political dialogues, an ontology immune to the criticisms of the Parmenides dialogue and capable of addressing complex problems and paradoxes of a mereological nature. I intend to demonstrate that, far from representing an abandonment of the fundamental precepts of Platonism, as some commentators argue, the ontology of the Stranger should be understood as a revision and refinement of the Theory of Ideas proposed by Socrates in dialogues such as PhaedoRepublic and Banquet.

The thought and work of the middle Platonists

In the vast field of research of the History of Ancient Philosophy, one of the groups of thinkers that has received less attention from modern translators, commentators and interpreters is undoubtedly that constituted by the representatives of middle Platonism. Encompassing the period from the 1st century BC to the 2nd century AD, the middle-Platonists constitute a group of philosophers affiliated with the Platonism located historically between the end of the so-called “new academy”, when Antiochus rejected the teachings of sceptical inspiration of Philo de Larissa, and the flourishing of neo-Platonism, with Plotinus, Porphyry and Proclus. The main reason for the neglect of the philosophers of this period is indicated in the name itself, “middle Platonists”, which modern criticism assigned to them. Obscured, on the one hand, by the attention dedicated to the great names of academic scepticism and, on the other hand, by the long tradition of the study of the work of Plotinus and other neo-Platonists, the so-called “middle-Platonists” came to be regarded as an often problematic middle-way between these two philosophical tendencies. As a result, the student of philosophy is often wholly ignorant of the existence of figures such as Antiochus, Plutarch and Albinus, or passes too quickly over these thinkers when exploring the paths that lead from Plato to Plotinus.

The research project, “The Thought and Work of the Middle Platonists” intends to meet the extensive demand for investigation, teaching and publication associated with different aspects of middle Platonic philosophy. The increase in interest in this period of the History of Philosophy is clearly indicated by the growing number of specialist publications. In addition to this, the fact that we are addressing a field of study still little explored allows for the emergence of significant numbers of original themes and debates. With the aim of addressing this great diversity of subjects and tasks, the line of research is divided into three work fronts: translation, interpretation and dissemination/teaching.

Prof. Rodrigo Nunes Guimarães

Immanence and post-critical ontologies

Notwithstanding the fact that much of the philosophy of the 20th century has been understood in terms of a definitive moving beyond metaphysics, speculative questions and debates have returned to the philosophical agenda in force over the last decade. This does not, however, concern a simple return to a pre-Kantian dogmatism, but rather a possibility within the space defined by critical philosophy, which has developed in the search for a redefinition of the meaning and role of philosophy, not only in its practical relationship with the world, but also in its interfaces with different disciplines (biology, physics, mathematics, cognitive science). To understand how different contemporary projects can be described as post-critical ontologies – speculative and critical at the same time –, I propose the concept of immanence as key to the reading of the problems that, beginning with modernity (with Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Marx) have spilled over into contemporary philosophy.

Politics in networks and the question of organization

For at least a decade, ad hoc reticular structures have been identified as the characteristic form of new social movements, and have been presented as resolving the problems (such as bureaucratization, heirarchization and lack of transparency) of previously existing forms, such as parties and unions. At the same time, critics of network organization have seen it as lacking the capacity to take decisions and joint action, and of tending to impermanence. Most of the time, the discussion rotates around a sterile taking of sides between the “old” and the “new”. Sustained by classic debates regarding the question of organization (particularly, but not exclusively, in the Marxist tradition) and by contributions from contemporary philosophy (post-structuralism, post-operaism, systemic thought) and science (theory of networks), as well as by reports and analysis of recent phenomena such as the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement, it seeks primarily to rigorously describe the emergent forms of organization that characterize social movements and contemporary politics. This has resulted in a more balanced understanding of their advantages and limitations, and redefinitions of concepts such as vanguard, leadership, spontaneity and representation, proposing a common vocabulary that goes beyond the opposition between “old” and “new” forms. More than a merely descriptive assignment, however, the research is based on the belief that it is possible, from here, to promote a conscious reflection and a deepening of these emergent forms of organization, relocating questions such as political subjectivity, initiative and strategy in a new terrain.

Politics and poetics in the Brazilian cinema of the 1960s and 1970s

The period that extends from the 1950s to the mid-70s was probably the most fertile in the history of Brazilian culture; and one of the central problems for the series of singular artistic proposals that arose during the period (concretism, neoconcretism, Theatre of the Oppressed, Tropicalism, Cinema Novo) is the question of the social and political role of art and the artist – or to put it in more general terms -, of culture and the producers of culture. This project proposes to analyse the Brazilian cinema of the 1960s and 1970s, asking how such debates (and their broader political and cultural conditions) are inscribed in it. The interest in doing this, however, is not merely historiographical: recovering the different artistic-cultural proposals of the time, and clarifying them based on the problems to which they sought to offer answers, is ultimately intended to re-posit the same questions from that time in the present: what are the continuities and discontinuities between the problems of then and those of today? What of relevance remains in the solutions created at that time, and what needs to be thought? It is ultimately an attempt to project a time of intense research and discussion of the social dimension and politics of culture and the producers of culture onto the present moment, in order to ask how the ideas of almost 50 years ago can help us to think about the same issues within the current social and technological conditions.

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