Log Bank

On the Warsaw Scientific Society
and Its Contributions to Logic

ARSAW SCIENTIFIC SOCIETY, whose official name in Latin reads Societas Scientiarum Varsaviensis, was established in Warsaw, 1800, to advance sciences and arts. It is merited for enormous contributions to scientific and cultural development of Poland. For instance, in the twenties of the 19th century the mechanical calculator of Abraham Stern (a Jewish mechanician from a small town in Eastern Poland) was demonstrated by the constructor and discussed at its sessions.

In the first half of our century, its merits are most conspicuous in logic and mathematics. The Proceedings of its sessions played a significant role for mathematics owing to prompt publication of results; their first volume, including some Waclaw Sierpinski's results, appeared in 1908. Consequential achievements, e.g., those on definability, were first announced at its sessions, and seminal works were first published by it, as Jacques Herbrand's Recherches sur la Theorie de la Demonstration, 1930, and Alfred Tarski's Pojecie Prawdy (The Concept of Truth in Formalized Languages), 1933.

Thus Warsaw has the honour of having been the place in which Herbrand's results, so fundamental for the mechanization of reasoning were first announced, to wit at the session of 23 January 1930. The lectures of those not being members must have been recommended and introduced by a member of the Society; for Herbrand's lecture this role was played by the Waclaw Sierpinski. Both names, that of Herbrand and that of Tarski have become like symbols of two main streams in modern logic, the proof-theoretical and the model-theoretical, respectively. Their relation, even opposition, is so reported by J.A. Robinson, the author of the important book -- Logic: Form and Function. The Mechanization of Deductive Reasoning (Edinburgh University Press, 1979).

Some of the great logical theorists -- Herbrand and Gentzen, to name the two most prominent -- refused, on principle, to have truck with Tarskian extravagancies (as they saw them) and delicately picked their way to important discoveries by using finitist methodology and purely syntactic notions throughout. (p. 288)
Among the members of the Society were so prominent logicians and mathematicians, as Karol Borsuk, L.E.J.Brouwer, Tadeusz Kotarbinski, Kazimierz Kuratowski, Jan Lukasiewicz, Andrzej Mostowski, Waclaw Sierpinski, Hugo Steinhaus et al.

The Society, which since its origin acted as the national academy of sciences, was abolished in 1952 to yield place to the Polish Academy of Sciences (Polish abbr. PAN). In 1981 it has been reestablished. In 1989 the Logic Group has been founded with the purpose of both (i) recalling and (ii) continuing the Society's logical traditions.

As for (i), the Logic Group supported a research on the place of Polish logic within that great trend toward science-oriented philosophy which flourished in Central Europe in a half of this century (see Mathesis Universalis, No.1, item 1-1). The encouragement of the Society contributed to the project which resulted in the book by Peter Simons Philosophy of Logic in Central Europe from Bolzano to Tarski, Kluwer 1992 (see comments on this book in Mathesis Universalis, No.1, items 4-1 and 4-2).

From 1991 to 1995 there appeared Logic Group Bulletin, published by the Society. In 1996 it has been replaced by the electronic quarterly Mathesis Universalis, in the sense that it should promote the logical traditions the Warsaw Scientific Society. The emblem of the Society which decorated the Bulletin has been replaced by Leibniz's portrait at the cover-like page -- to hint at a Leibnizian perspective which in the time of AI and cognitive science regains its power to inspire logic.

The emblem of the Society consists of a picture of Athena, with an owl at her feet, and the catchword a genio lumen -- the light from a genius.

Original URL --- http://www.pip.com.pl --- 09-11-97.
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