You’re invited to hear Pierre Wagner from the University of Paris 1 (Sorbonne) on Thursday, May 4, at 3 p.m., in a lecture titled “Intuition and Form in Carnap’s Der Raum” in Beckman Hall 401.


At the time when Carnap’s Der Raum (Space) was published, in 1922, the geometrical heritage from Euclid and Descartes had been so deeply transformed that many questions about space and geometry were the object of vivid discussions among philosophers and mathematicians:  What is the object of geometry?  What are the sources of our knowledge of space?  What is the domain of validity and applicability of geometrical knowledge?  At the same time, physics raised new questions about space.  Einstein’s relativity theory, confirmed by Eddington’s experiments of 1919, revolutionized the relationships of geometry and experience as they were usually conceived.  It is no wonder that, after studying philosophy, mathematics, and physics at the University of Jena, the young Carnap endeavored to contribute to the “theory of science” by means of a dissertation about space and the various meanings of this concept.  In Der Raum, Carnap’s first book, we encounter a philosophical thought that is deeply influenced by Neo-Kantianism and Husserl, as well as quite different from the neo-positivist thought of the author of The Logical Structure of the World, The Logical Syntax of Language, and Meaning and Necessity with which we are more familiar and have learned to criticize.  In this talk, I will provide a short introduction to Der Raum and analyze the particular combination of intuition and form we find in Carnap’s conception of space and geometrical knowledge.