Francesco Coniglione

in Fellows

Francesco Coniglione is full professor of History of Philosophy at the University of Catania.

He has been in the recent past:
-    coordinator of the International PhD in “Human Sciences” of the Department of Educational Processes, in cooperation with the Mississippi State University and the University of Nevada, Reno and co-funded by Italian Ministry of Education;
-    responsible for the European research project "MIRRORS - Monitoring Ideas Regarding Research Organizations and Reasons in Science" (2009-2010);
-    Director of the Department of Educational Processes (2006-2010)
-    President of the Italian Philosophical Society (2013-2016)
-    President of the Degree Course in Education and Education of the University of Catania (2016-2018).

He is currently a member of the Polish Academy of Science (2015-2018) Council of the Humanities and Social Sciences. He is a member of “Advisory Committee” of the Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities (Rodopi Publisher, Amsterdam / Atlanta); of the Polish Journal of Philosophy; of the Nauka, magazine, of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and of other important Italian magazines (Paradigmi, Il Protagora etc.).

As for his fields of study, he has published volumes and essays on the historical and theoretical aspects of twentieth century scientific philosophy, with particular attention to the Polish analytical philosophy of this century. He was also interested in the analysis of some important moments of the twentieth century Italian philosophical thought, read always from the point of view of methodological and epistemological approach. Another field of interest has been, in recent years, the problem of the “Knowledge-based Societies” and its relevance for the dissemination and advancement of scientific culture in the European context. Lately it has been interested in the relationship between “rejected knowledge” and the European philosophical and scientific tradition. Among his most recent publications: La parola liberatrice. Momenti storici del rapporto tra filosofia e scienza, CUECM, Catania 2002; Introduzione alla filosofia della scienza. Un approccio storico, Bonanno, Acireale-Roma 2004; «Between Abstraction and Idealization: Scientific Practice and Philosophical Awa¬reness», in F. Coniglione, R. Poli e R. Rollinger (Eds.), Idealization XI: Historical Studies on Abstraction, Rodopi, Atlanta-Amsterdam 2004, pp. 59-110; «The Place of Polish Scientific Philosophy in the European Context», in Polish Journal of Philosophy, 1 (2007). Popper addio. Dalla crisi dell’epistemologia alla fine del logos occidentale, Bonanno, Acireale-Roma 2008; Through The Mirrors of Science, New Challenges for Knowledge-based Societies, Ontos Verlag, Heusenstamm 2010; «Quale conoscenza per la “Società della conoscenza”?», in Bollettino della Società Filosofica Italiana, 216, 2015, pp. 3-24 «Galileo and Contemporary Epistemology. Do we still have something to learn from Galileo’s ‘methodological revolution’?”, Przegląd Filozoficzny – Nowa Seria, vol. 25, issue No 1 (97), 2016, pp. 123-140; «‘Rejected Knowledge’ and the Tradition of Reason. A few Hints on their Necessary and Inextricable Link», in Reason and no-reason from ancient philosophy to neurosciences, ed. by L.R. Cardullo and F. Coniglione, Academia Verlag, Sankt Augustin 2017, pp. 211-231; «Some Remarks on the Meaning of Esotericism and Plato’s Unwritten Doctrines», in Mondi. Movimenti simbolici e sociali dell’uomo, vol. I, n. 1, pp. 5-51.

Research project: Rational and a-rational in the history of thought. From “rejected knowledge” to the “tacit knowledge”

The reason/non-reason conceptual pair (also declinable in the similar forms of rational/arational, logical/alogical) pervades the history of Western thought from the archaic era up to contemporary times. Perceived in different historical periods and in different cultural forms either as a conflict or as a vital coexistence, the reason/non-reason pair was first theorized and legitimated as a sharp contrast in antiquity, and at the dawn of the twentieth century it was successfully exemplified by Nietzsche with the opposition between apollonian and dionysiac. From then on apollonian and dionysiac are the most well-known categories of the rational vs. arational contrast, that is present in all areas of human culture in every age. Among the proponents of the revaluation of the a-rational sphere there have been, besides Nietzsche, philosophers such as Bergson, Heidegger, Levinas in the twentieth century, and main figures in philosophy and science such as M. Zambrano, M. Nussbaum, E. Goldberg , J. Jaynes, in our century.

In more recent times the contrast between rational and non-rational has also affected the history of epistemology and the reflection on scientific thought. Kuhn’s paradigm concept introduced an element that was not fully verbalizable and which escaped the methodological and rational criteria of epistemology of the time. This concept was preceded by the reflection of Ludwik Fleck and by Michael Polanyi with the concept of tacit knowledge that. This is also accompanied by the rediscovery of the narrative dimension of science. It seems that the a-rational and a-logical dimension, long-held on the margins of science, has gained new importance in understanding the complexity of scientific research. Not only that, but with the theory of complexity, rediscovered aspects of scientific thought that bring to life concepts that seem to belong to another era: olism, emergency, totality, and so on. These are all these aspects that typically belonged to the so-called “rejected knowledge”, that is, all that knowledge defeated by the advancement of scientific reason, and which, however, was secretly cultivated by many scientists and mathematicians, as evidenced by Newton’s studies on alchemy.

This vast territory of intellectual thought that is currently discarded by many, is an immense universe that fills entire libraries and the shelves of bookstores, more than any other ‘scientific’ discipline with throngs of people who have practiced and continue to believe in it, people who in normal everyday life fully exercise their intellect, dealing with quite rational matters, even professing scien¬¬tific research activities in fields in which the Western logos gives the best evi¬dence of itself, like the physical sciences, logic or mathematics. Can we glimpse a possible way to traverse these territories without being ensnared by their many conceptual traps? The concept of “tacit knowledge”, especially as developed in Fleck’s works, allows us to find the key to better understand the function that this aspect of human thought fulfills in the context of scientific theorization. But it also allows us to better understand the function that this kind of knowledge has in the centuries assured with respect to the clear and luminous theorization of scientific rationality.

Dates of stay: 01 October 2018 - 28 February 2019