Georg Schiemer

Portrait of Georg Schiemer

© Leo Bauer

"The Formal Turn - The Emergence of Formalism in Twentieth-Century Thought": The development of logic and the philosophy of science in the first part of the twentieth century is marked by a profound intellectual transformation, namely a wide-ranging formal turn. This shift is best described as a new emphasis on formal methods and the adoption of a general formalist viewpoint towards the disciplines in question. Roughly put, formalism presents a novel methodological and epistemological stance, characterised by a focus on the purely structural features of a field of inquiry, studied in abstraction from questions of content, meaning or interpretation. Moreover, formalist positions not only dominated research at the time, but also led to fundamentally new conceptions of logic, the foundations of mathematics and the philosophy of the exact sciences, determining the shape of these disciplines today. In his ERC Consolidator project, philosopher Georg Schiemer aims to develop a first interdisciplinary and comparative study of the formal turn in twentieth-century thought with a focus on the philosophy of Logical Empiricism, on competing schools in the foundations of mathematics, as well as on central advances to modern logic in the period between 1890 and 1940. The research project “The Formal Turn - The Emergence of Formalism in Twentieth-Century Thought” is funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant amounting to 2 million euros.