The Department of Philosophy, as part of our weekly Speaker Series, is pleased to welcome Dr. Sander Verhaegh, Assistant Professor at the Tilburg Center for Logic, Ethics, and Philosophy of Science (TiLPS) at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. He is visiting the Department this term as a Visiting Russell Professor. You can learn more about him and his work here (link).
Talk title: Exiled Empiricists: American Philosophy and the Great Intellectual Migration
Abstract: In the 1930s, hundreds of European academics fled to the United States, escaping the quickly deteriorating political situation on the continent. Among them were a few dozen philosophers from a variety of different schools: logical positivists, critical theorists, and phenomenologists. Especially the first group would have a tremendous impact on American philosophy. Although the local intellectual climate had been dominated by distinctively American traditions such as pragmatism, U.S. philosophers soon began to advance views that were heavily indebted to the positivists, turning the country into a bastion of what we nowadays call ‘analytic philosophy’.
How could a small group of academic refugees have such an impact on American philosophy? What happened to the pragmatist tradition? And why were U.S. philosophers more receptive to logical positivism than to other schools of philosophical refugees? In the coming few years, Tilburg University will host a research project, funded by the Dutch and the European Research Council, that aims to take some first steps toward answering these questions. Our interdisciplinary team of intellectual historians, philosophers of science, and data scientists will computationally map the development of the American intellectual landscape and use this data as input for detailed archival studies. In this talk, I outline the project, present some first results, and explain how a better understanding of this disruptive period can help shed new light on academic philosophy today.
More information about the project: https://exiledempiricists.com/