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Sander Verhaegh: Euro-American migration and the development of post-war philosophy

When:We 06-10-2021 15:15 - 17:00
Where:Room Omega

Colloquium lecture by Sander Verhaegh (Tilburg), organized by the Department of Theoretical Philosophy

Crossing Oceans: Euro-American migration and the development of post-war philosophy

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, I will work on a project that aims to answer these questions. In this talk, I outline the project, present some first results from archival research, and explain how a better understanding of this disruptive period can help shed new light on academic philosophy today.