Some Reasons to Reopen the Question of the Foundations of Probability Theory Following Gian-Carlo Rota

  • Carlos LoboEmail author
Part of the Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science book series (LEUS, volume 43)


Roshdi Rashed’s work illustrates perfectly what can be a conscious and cautious practice of reflection, with the purpose of setting history of science (and mathematics) on renewed and deeper grounds (See the introduction, Problems of method: history of science between history and epistemology, in Classical Mathematics from Al-Khwarizmi to Descartes , 2014, (Rashed 2014).). This entails the methodical operations that he enumerates, such as enlargement towards undermined or ignored traditions (Chinese, Arab, Indian, etc.), careful and reasoned decompartmentalization of disciplines, correlative changes of periodization (without which the critique of scientific ideology and ideology of scientists would risk of falling back into some counter-ideological history, particular or general). (Europeocentrism for instance is twofold: promotion of the ambiguous and disputable notion of “western science” and ignorance or “minorization” of the contributions of non-western traditions. Cf. (Rashed 1984) and appendices in The Notion of Western Science: “Science as a Western Phenomenon” and “Periodization in Classical Mathematics” (Rashed 2014).) Among mathematicians, Gian-Carlo Rota is certainly both exceptional and, for this reason, exemplary. By choosing this perspective as a tribute, I hope that Roshdi Rashed will consider my comments not too unworthy. For any philosopher of science not insensitive to history of science, and for any historian not completely allergic to philosophical reflection, studying Rota’s contribution in the fields of logic and phenomenology reveals itself instructive and fruitful. Contrary to dominant trends amongst his colleagues, in his own way, Rota showed a strong and continuous interest in logic, history of science and philosophy.



I am grateful to them more than I can say to all the friends and colleagues, who take the time to read and comment this paper. This paper has benefited from the careful readings and/or the criticisms of Luigi Accardi, Françoise Balibar, Franck Jedrzejewski, Pierre Kerszberg, Didier Vaudène, Mark van Atten and Maria Villela-Petit da Penha. Last but not least, I am very thankful to Marian Hobson who helped greatly to convert my prose into proper English. Thank you to Pierre Giai-Levra who gave a final, generous and acute look at the last version of this paper. Remaining mistakes and shortcomings are attributable to me. I am also very grateful to Hassan Tahiri who organized this unforgettable conference in Lisbon at the Centro de Filosofia das Ciências, for his patience in waiting for the final version of this paper.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College International de PhilosphieParisFrance

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