Modern & Contemporary Philosophy


The Thematic Line Modern and Contemporary Philosophy promotes the study of disciplinary domains or great themes of this period in history of philosophy through theses, team projects, graduate and post-graduate training, scientific meetings, and publications.

GFMC and Prof. Maria José Cantista

Research in Modern and Contemporary Philosophy started in Porto in 1996, when the Gabinete de Filosofia Moderna e Contemporânea (GFMC) was founded by Professor Maria José Cantista. Professor Cantista was the Contemporary Philosophy Professor at FLUP and worked on phenomenology (especially Husserl, Merleau-Ponty and Levinas).GFMC was from the start conceived to undertake a comparative approach to issues on mind, meaning and ethics from the perspectives of both phenomenological and analytic traditions. Profs. Sofia Miguens and João Alberto Pinto, whose PhDs were in philosophy and mind and logic, respectively, worked with Professor Cantista in conceiving GFMC and its agenda, including in its relation to teaching. Prof. Maria Manuel Jorge brought philosophy of science to the agenda of GFMC, Prof. Celeste Natário brought into it a reflection the reception within the Portuguese philosophical tradition and Portuguese culture, literature and arts, of movements in contemporary philosophy. 


Modern & Contemporary Philosophy

(Gabinete de Filosofia Moderna e Contemporânea)

Reference: TL-502-1433: Modern and Contemporary Philosophy

Principal Investigator: Sofia Miguens Travis



RG-502-2083 Aesthetics, Politics and Knowledge

RG-502-2084 Mind, Language and Action Group

RG-502-2085 Roots and Horizons of Philosophy and Culture in Portugal

RG-502-2086 - Philosophy and Public Space 


Structure of the Thematic Line

There are four RGs within this Thematic Line: Aesthetics, Politics and Knowledge (APK); Mind, Language and Action Group (MLAG), Philosophy and Public Space (PPS) and Roots and Horizons of Portuguese Philosophy and Culture (ROOTS). They are currenltly led by Eugénia Vilela, Sofia Miguens, Paula Pereira and Celeste Natário, respectively.

The RGs work for the most part independently - the fulfillment of the objectives of the Thematic Line is dependent on the pursuit of their specific research agendas .

The specific internal organization of each RG through which each will pursue their research agenda is the following:

RG Aesthetics, Politics and Knowledge (APK) comprises two largely independent sub-groups: Aesthetics, Politics and Arts (Led by E. Vilela) and Modes of Thought and Philosophical Systems (lead by P. Tunhas).

RG Mind, Language and Action (MLAG) works on 4 areas: Mind and Language, Action Agency and Rationality, Logic and Philosophy of Science, and History of Contemporary Philosophy. Ongoing projects often recruit two, three or even the four areas.

Within RG Roots and Horizons (RHPTC) work is coordinated by C. Natário and R. Epifânio.

The RG Philosophy and Public Space was founded by Prof. Paula Pereira in 2007 joined Contemporary Philosophy after the end of Gabinete de Filosofia da Educação.Public space as the nuclear theme configures the research in contemporary philosophy, mostly, in social and political philosophy , ethics and philosophy of technology.

Objectives of the Thematic Line

Thus, through the specific work of the four research groups involved (RGs APK, MLAG and RHPTC) the Institute of Philosophy explores and maps the contours of contemporary philosophy. The 4 RGs have specific agendas; it is through the pursuit of such agendas that comparisons are expected to originate. We do not expect to arrive at anything like a non-controversial characterization of 'contemporary philosophy', but rather, by the very juxtaposition of the work of the research groups, to make clear the (often profound) differences in methodology and philosophical commitments which characterize it. Further objectives are to understand genealogies, and possible convergences (and divergences), so that current, and persistent, lack of communication among the traditions and movements in contemporary philosophy may be (at least partly) overcome.


Some orientations and goals of the research agendas of the RGs f:

1. Where it concerns the notion of 'contemporary' as itself involving a stance on history and historicity, one main goal of sub-group Aesthetics, Politics and Arts is to discuss the relations between experience, history, memory, oblivion, archive, and thus to deconstruct classical notions of testimony, tradition or transmission.

2. It is a further objective of the sub-group to spell out what a heideggerian, derridian, deleuzian, benjaminian, etc, conception of philosophy consists in (e.g listening to Being, deconstruction, creation of concepts, etc)

3. Subgroup MTPS works on the history of political thought in order to capture what has contributed to conceptions of the present.

4. Another objective of subgroup MTPS to explore a Kantian approach to epistemological, ethico-political and aesthetic issues.

5. RG MLAG works  on the sources of the analytic tradition, focusing on its German-speaking origins (centrally on Frege, extending to Wittgenstein). This should bring out a contrast with an English-speaking centered conception of that tradition. Against such background the RG expects to explore current forms of realism which revisit Frege and Wittgenstein (e.g. Diamond's realistic spirit as an approach to 'life with language', 'life with logic', 'life with ethics') in order to critically assess some mainstream positions of current analytic philosophy such as (quinean)inspired naturalism and metaphysical realism.

6. RG MLAG will also be particularly interested in the nature of philosophical method, in its relation to the nature of philosophy. One main reference will be the wittgensteinian notion of Erläuterungen, in contrast with that of 'analysis' (which cannot mean anything as simplistic as analysis of concepts, contrary to what some current movements, such as experimental philosophy, when countering it, assume). Given the orientation above, this will mean a renewed attention to language, some decades after the heyday of philosophy of language in the 70s.

7. RG Roots will look closely at Philosophy in Portugal in the 19th and 20th centuries - e.g. at the reception of phenomenology, existentialism or nietzscheanism - and also at ethical and political thought developed by Portuguese-speaking authors in that period.

8. As for what counts as philosophy, the Group will be especially interested in exploring the nature of the relations between philosophy and literature. With that purpose in mind, the work of a number of Portuguese-language writers will be explored from a philosophical perspective.

9.Public space as the nuclear theme of PPS research group results of general apprehensions raised by the spatial, social, political and anthropological changes occurred during the last few decades, with a notorious impact on peoples’ lives, on citizenship, and on modes of urban dwelling, an impact whose extent is yet to be fully assessed.

10. PPS researchers seek to reflect on the transformations of the – and on the - contemporary public space, awakened by the progressive depoliticization of public life and the technological development, bearing in mind the increasingly complex relations between science, technology, politics and society. The research has been developed around the topic of contemporary dwelling, emerging among other themes and concepts: the anthropological dimension of space, technique, technology, technopolis, democracy, digitalism, the natural and the artificial, construction of subjectivity, the common good, communication, freedom, emancipation, power, utopia and politics.

11. The “Aesthetics, Politics and Knowledge Group” intends to develop its research work within the intersection between classical philosophy and contemporary movements in aesthetics and artistic thought. The main philosophical questions will be focused on “image” and “imagination”. Considering philosophical and artistic objects, we will pursue the relations between knowledge and desire, spectral forms, aesthetic experience and political imaginary (utopias, revolutions, vanguards). The approach is simultaneously historical and conceptual, suggesting the relevance of past philosophical discussions to contemporary debates.

12. The intimacy between thought and imagination has been discussed since Aristotle: the soul never thinks without a mental image; the thinking faculty thinks the forms in mental images. Kant and, following Kant, Fichte and the post-Kantianism in general, including the phenomenological tradition with Husserl and Sartre, renewed powerfully Aristotle’s intuition. This tradition is one of the central objects of the APK’s study and lies at the core of its relationship with other RGs.