Wallis: Logic and 17th-century Scientific Thought

About the symposium

Logic and learning in the seventeenth century 

Logic was often seen in the seventeenth century as a relic of scholastic teaching in the universities, and as associated with useless wrangling and disputation. But when John Wallis presented his English Treatise of Logick to the Royal Society in 1685, he emphasized that logic formed the base of all rational discourse and thus had a positive role to play in the context of modern scientific learning.

The symposium aims to explore the wider context of Wallis's Logick, both institutionally and intellectually. A series of commissioned papers is devoted to such topics as the status of logic as a discipline, the role of logic in university education, the employment of logic in other fields such as philosophy and theology, the views of logic held by other prominent members of the Royal Society, and the question of how Wallis's approach differs from that of other theoreticians and practitioners both in England and on the continent. It is planned that a major volume based on the various contributions will be published shortly after the symposium.

It seems apt that the symposium should take place in Amsterdam, since throughout his life Wallis corresponded with Dutch scientists like Christiaan Huygens and Frans van Schooten. Although Wallis himself never travelled abroad during his lifetime, the only country he ever expressed an interest in visiting was the Netherlands, when he drew up the proposal to have his mathematical works reprinted there.