Sociology and Anthropology of Logic: Past and Present - Unilog 2018

June 21, 2018 - June 22, 2018


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Sociology and Anthropology of Logic: Past and Present


Workshop organized by Julie Brumberg-Chaumont (LEM/CNRS/PSL, Paris Research University) and Claude Rosental (CEMS/IMM/CNRS/EHESS/PSL) during the 6th World Congress on Universal Logic (UNILOG 2018, Vichy, France, June 21-22, 2018)

The workshop “sociology and anthropology of logic: past and present” intends to explore the various ways in which logic can be approached from a sociological or anthropological point of view. We will look into how various actors and peoples concretely define and practice logic. Logic will not be apprehended according to a fixed definition of what it is or what it should be in order to assess their various definitions and practices. Instead, we will analyze their possible plurality.

We will focus on both past and present definitions and practices of logic. Historical investigations are welcome. In particular, we will discuss how philosophy and history of logic might benefit from various methodological approaches developed by historians and sociologists of mathematics and science over the past 40 years.

The organizers have contributed to this endeavor in various ways. In particular, Claude Rosental has been studying contemporary logical demonstrations from a sociological point of point. As for Julie Brumberg-Chaumont, she launched a program called “Homo Logicus, Logic at the Edges of Humanity: Anthropological, Philosophical and Historical Approaches” with Antonella Romano at EHESS in Paris in 2016, and another program called “Social History of Logic in the Middle Ages” with John Marenbon (Trinity College, Cambridge) in 2017.

The anthropological dimension of logic may be observed, for example, in the debates that Lévy-Bruhl’s notion of “pre-logical mentality” of indigenous peoples has generated for more than a century. Anthropologists and other actors have often referred to logical skills to define the boundaries of humanity. Depending on their more or less open definitions of logic, they have included a limited or a large number of humans within these boundaries. Testing codified logical skills — Aristotelian and traditional logic in the past, thinking skill assessment (TSA) today – has been used since the Middle Ages as a way to select individuals in higher education institutions and/or as a means for excluding “logically disabled” groups in relationship to their so-called “social or racial inferiority.” A sociological approach to the history of logic implies that logic is not only a set of theories and doctrines, but also a tool for action that individuals use in different institutional, political, and social settings.

Several authors have contributed to approaching logic this way. For instance, David Bloor’s work inspired Irving Anellis and Ivo Grattan-Guiness’ criticisms of the notion of “Fregean revolution.” The “social history of logic” program developed by Volker Peckaus and Christian Thiel in the 1980s also illustrates this trend.

Papers are expected to cover one of the following topics:

-Logic and the Boundaries of Humanity

-Social Studies of Logic

-Anthropological History of Logic

-Selecting Humans Based on their Logical Skills

-Ethnologic and Ethnomathematics

-History of Logic and History of Anthropology

Abstracts (one page) should be sent by October 5, 2017 via e-mail to: 

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October 5, 2017, 11:00pm CET

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University of Leicester

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