At the end of May, UCLA will host the first Pan-American Symposium on the History of Logic[=PASHL]. For four days (24-28 May), experts on different logical and philosophical traditions – from Antiquity to the early 20th century – will meet to discuss about the notion(s) of Validity throughout History.
It is not the first time that I write about this upcoming conference, but this is a pet project of mine and I hope that our readers will forgive me for my self-indulgence. Besides, truth is, I think it is going to be an exciting event, not only for the parties directly involved, but for historians of logic and rationality in general, because we are trying to propose something new in the way we do the history of logic and, hopefully, influence the possible routes that future research should explore.
I should thank profusely the UCLA Department of Philosophy and the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies for sponsoring, financing and hosting this meeting. I also cannot thank enough my co-organisers (Calvin Normore and Milo Crimi) for their time and the hard work that they have devoted to this. But I would also like to use the space at my disposal to say something more about where the PASHL comes from, what it is meant to be, and where we would like for it to go.
The idea stemmed from three different consideration.
(1) As of now, most of the academic events in the history of logic are hosted in European universities – which is understandable, at the very least because on that side of the Pond there is a somewhat stronger emphasis on the history of philosophy and sciences within the standard curricula. However, this means that most grad-students and early career researchers from outside the Old Continent have a hard time attending any of those meetings. The intention of this conference is to offer them a closer alternative.
(2) In recent years, we have noticed a tendency towards a “metaphysical turn” in larger scale conferences in the history of logic, relegating the technicalities of the “old logical stuff” to small workshops. While this is not a problem per se, as much as a mirror of the current research trends and academic interests, it puts a misleading emphasis on the non-logical stuff that is indeed part of traditional logic, however it is clearly not so dominant a part as some nonspecialist might be let believe by looking at those conferences’ programmes or skimming through the proceedings. We have tried to put the emphasis back on the logic in the history of logic. What better starting point than the notion of validity?
(3) Historians of logic tend to be locked in their own subfield bubbles and their interactions are sporadic and limited to closely related traditions, usually with a heavily Western focus. While this a widespread problem throughout the history of philosophy, it is particularly puzzling and urgent in the history of logic since very often contemporary logicians have advanced claims of eternality and universality. We have tried to create a larger space for dialogue and comparison, across time and space. So we will have talks on medieval Latin logic alternating with papers in Ancient, Byzantine, Arabic, Sanskrit, and Early Modern logic – not by focusing on questions of transmission and reception, but on a fundamental conceptual issue.
This spirit of openness and inclusivity has motivated our scientific choices and our invitations, with the intent of having a generational dialogue as well. Our hope is to create a biannual appointment in the Americas and to help make our discipline more comparative, more dialogical and more aware of what is going on in its many subfields.
We have a magnificent line-up (that you can find here) and no registration fee; so if you are in the area, feel free to come by.