The Philosophy as a whole
The philosophical works of Fernando Gil (Muecate, 1937 – Paris, 2006) embrace a diversity of fields, ranging from epistemology to aesthetics, from moral philosophy to politics. It is however notable that whatever field he worked in, he always did it from the perspective of philosophy perceived as a whole, i.e., from the conviction that each specific knowledge refers to all the others and somehow presumes them.
Science, aesthetic, ethics
His works on scientific knowledge for instance, in Mimesis e Negação (IN/CM, Lisbon, 1984) and particularly in Provas (IN/CM, Lisbon, 1986), contain already in itself the appeal to an approach that favors the role of the subject in knowledge like we find it in his later works such as Tratado da evidência (IN/CM, Lisbon, 1996 (Traité de l’évidence, Millon, Grenoble, 1993)) or A Convicção (A Convicção, Campo das Letras, Oporto, 2003 (La Conviction, Flammarion, Paris, 2000)). These in turn refer, in a clear and elaborated way, to the aesthetic experience, subject of Viagens do Olhar. Retrospecção, Visão e Profecia no Renascimento Português, in collaboration with Helder Macedo (Campo das Letras, Oporto, 1998) and of A Quatro Mãos. Schumann, Eichendorff e outras notas, in collaboration with Mário Vieira de Carvalho (IN/CM, Lisbon, 2005). (It should be noted that throughout his life, Fernando Gil has always had a great proximity to art and artists.) The questions regarding proof and conviction are still present both in moral philosophy (O Hospital e a Lei Moral, Atlântico, no. 7, 2005, pp. 29-31) and in political philosophy (Impasses, seguido de Coisas Vistas, Coisas Ouvidas, in collaboration with Paulo Tunhas and Danièle Cohn, Europa-América, Mem Martins, 2003).
In his first books we find, both from the perspective of a philosophical anthropology of phenomenological origin (Aproximação Antropológica, Guimarães Editores, Lisbon, 1961) and of philosophical logics (La Logique du Nom, L’Herne, Paris, 1972), themes and intuitions that his later works explored with greater richness and depth. The three books in which Fernando Gil gathers articles not integrated in the previously mentioned works (Modos da Evidência, IN/CM, Lisbon, 1998; Mediações, IN/CM, Lisbon, 2001; Acentos, IN/CM, Lisbon, 2005), show the inner articulation of the various objects of thought and the search for ways between them.
Teaching and the transmission of knowledge
It is therefore wrong to understand Fernando Gil as an encyclopedist, even though, and besides his various collaborations in encyclopedias, the reading of some of his texts (cf. “Cruzamentos da Enciclopédia”, Prelo, special number, 1986) or even his personal path as a university student – first in Johannesburg, than in Lisbon, Law, and then, already in Paris and before the doctorate in logics, an unfinished thesis about Céline under the supervision of Lucien Goldmann – might give this idea. The philosophy of Fernando Gil is a unifying philosophy — insofar as such is possible in any philosophy —, that is to say, a philosophy that, without concealing discontinuities, intends to search for the connections between the various plans of the human thinking. Leibniz and Cassirer are predecessors that easily cross one’s mind.
The philosophy of Fernando Gil is a unifying philosophy — insofar as such is possible in any philosophy —, that is to say, a philosophy that, without concealing discontinuities, intends to search for the connections between the various plans of the human thinking.
His teaching obviously reflected this general tendency of his thinking. In Portugal, first in the University of Lisbon, as from 1976, and later, as from 1979, in the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences of the New University of Lisbon where he was, from 1988 on, Full Professor of Philosophy of Knowledge. And in France, where he was, since 1989, “Director of Studies” in the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. Furthermore, he was a Visiting Professor at several universities, namely, in the last years of his life, at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.
Contributions for the development of philosophical and scientific knowledge in Portugal
Besides the teaching, he carried out activities in the field of the encyclopedic universe. He was consultant of the Encyclopedia Britannica, of the Encyclopedia Universalis and the Encyclopedia Einaudi (of which he coordinated a Portuguese edition, published by Imprensa Nacional, as of 1984). He also made all his knowledge available for projects promoting the development of philosophical and scientific knowledge in Portugal. In this sense, he was special adviser to the President of the Republic, Dr. Mário Soares, during both his mandates, as well as to the Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Mariano Gago. He also was a permanent collaborator of the Foundation for Science and Technology and, later, of the Foundation Gulbenkian. The effects of these collaborations were decisive for the development of the philosophical research in Portugal, which owes him a lot.
Some of the works he directed testify the extraordinary quality of this dedication, namely Controvérsias científicas e filosóficas (Fragmentos, Lisbon, 1990), O balanço do século (IN/CM, Lisbon, 1990), A ciência como cultura (IN/CM, Lisbon, 1992) and A ciência tal qual se faz (Lisbon, Sá da Costa, 1999). And also Fichte: crença, imaginação, temporalidade, organized together with Virginia López-Domínguez and Luísa Couto-Soares (Campo das Letras, Oporto, 2002), O processo da crença, coordinated in collaboration with Pierre Livet and João Pina Cabral (Gradiva, Lisbon, 2004) and Terrorismo e relações internacionais (Gradiva and Foundation Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, 2006). And, maybe in this context even more important than the previously mentioned works – the creation of the magazine Análise in 1984, for whose coordination he was responsible until number 20 (1998), following more ephemeral projects like Estudos filosóficos and Filosofia e epistemologia.
The impact of his philosophical activity manifests itself in the influence of his works, especially in Portugal, Brazil, France and Italy, and on the philosophical constructions that owe him their source of inspiration.
The importance of Fernando Gil for philosophy – that led, among other editions, to the publication of books such as those organized by António Braz Teixeira (A razão apaixonada, IN/CM, Lisbon, 2008) and Maria Filomena Molder (Paisagens dos confins. Fernando Gil (Vendaval, Lisbon, 2009) – is not limited to the just mentioned. The impact of his philosophical activity manifests itself in the influence of his works, especially in Portugal, Brazil, France and Italy, and on the philosophical constructions that owe him their source of inspiration.
Finally, some prizes and honours he was awarded should be mentioned. Grande Oficial da Ordem do Infante D. Henrique (1992), Prémio Pessoa (1993), Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques (1995), Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Aveiro (1998). Two of his books were also chosen for awards: Mimésis e Negação (“Prémio de Ensaio” of the Portuguese PEN Club, 1985), Viagens do Olhar. Retrospecção, Visão e Profecia no Renascimento Português, in collaboration with Helder Macedo (Prize Jacinto Prado Coelho, 1998, “Prémio de Ensaio” of the Portuguese PEN Club, 1988).
The Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation would like to acknowledge the collaboration and support given by Professor Paulo Tunhas. His contributions were of great importance to this first edition of Fernando Gil International Prize.