Évora's 7th Symposium on Philosophy and History of Science and Technology
"Structuralism: Roots, Plurality and Contemporary debates"
The aim of this Symposium is to recognize the plurality and the specificity of methodologies linked to "structuralism", to establish links among them, and to frame them through its history, in the fields of the exact, natural, social and human sciences, or to use a fallen into disgrace expression, in the field of culture.
With the "philosophies of relation", in particular the Kantian-inspired ones, the focus on the duality between substance and function moved towards the analysis of the structural aspects of human understanding. In the Kantian tradition, where the notion of subject is still fundamental, the transcendental method, and the identification of the conditions of possibility or conditions of understanding were extrapolated from Newtonian Physics to the field of culture and human practices, into a plurality of symbolic forms (Cassirer), or habitus (Bourdieu).
The Kantian "linguistic turn" (Humboldt), embracing a plurality of world-views, favoured the application of structuralism in linguistics (Jakobson, Troubetzkoy), where the link between structure, individual, and event became fundamental, avoiding the abstract formalism and assessing the active and productive aspect of structures and of the dialectic between structure and history. This “turn” also promoted the omission of the subject, as it is the case in Foucault's analysis of discursive formation such as the "epistemes".
In the Anglo-Saxon tradition in philosophy of science, particularly in physics, the recurrent metaphysical debate about realism also has some links with structuralism (Worrall, Ladyman, etc.), leading to new formulations of realism in terms of structures (ontic, epistemic), claiming a genealogy which goes back to the conceptions of the "savants-philosophes" (e.g. Poincaré). Structuralist approaches have also been developed in order to tackle several issues within the realism debate, for example, about the relations among theories and its modular structure (Darrigol).
In the philosophy of mathematics, formalist and structuralist perspectives, distance themselves from intuitionistic ones and assess the technical aspect of this discipline. This position has enlightened the discussions on the nature of mathematics in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The symposium will have two main sections – i) structuralism in the mathematical and natural sciences and, ii) structuralism in the social sciences and humanities. Paper proposals may have a historical or systematic approach, but must be tied to one of these sections. The languages of the symposium are: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
For any inquiries about this sumposium, please contact João Príncipe