The First 25 Years

A note from Robert Cohen, director and co-founder of The Center on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of CPHS:



Boston University
Boston Colloquium for the Philosophy of science
1960 – 1985

            Here they are: the twenty-five years of the Boston Colloquium for the Philosophy of Science, all of the colloquia, all of the speakers and commentators. Well, nearly all of them, since we have missed or lost a file here and there. If you detect on such, please let us know.

We – Marx Wartofsky and I – began, with Phillip Frank’s blessing, as a continuation of the Institute for the Unity of Science, itself a graft in the Netherlands from the Vienna Circle. We had encouragement and some money to launch the first semester from Dean Richard Millard at the Boston University Graduate School, and the five years of generous help from the National Science Foundation. The NSF accepted our first five volumes of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science to serve as our annual reports, and thereby finally launched our decades of pleasant cooperation with our publisher, Mr. Anton Reidel of Dordrecht, Holland, who came to be a good friend. (Later he sold his firm and now lives on Cohasset; we continue the friendly relations with the D. Reidel Publishing Company.)

Further, we joined with colleagues from all the colleges and universities of greater Boston, philosophers, scientists, humanists, logicians, social scientists, psychologists and medical doctors. We were joined, also, by those from government and commercial laboratories and from theological seminaries. At first we met at the different universities but soon established the habit of a canonical place and time, our Tuesday evenings. We added special events, collaborating with other local, national and international groups. We collaborated with several of the biennial meetings of the Philosophy of Science Association, the Hegel Society, The AAAS, The International Union for the History of Science. We have celebrated our living contemporaries such as Popper, Grünbaum, Frank, Bunge, Struik, Lorenzen. Similarly, we have mourned others such as Carnap, Hanson, Benjamin Nelson, L. Rosenfeld, Lakatos and Bar-Hillel; and past figures with symposia on Goethe, Spinosa, and Hegel.

Throughout the years, we have tried to respond to philosophers of science from within and beyond the standard view, beyond empiricist conventionalist analytic philosophy of science. To go beyond has meant to cross intellectual limits and geographical boundaries. Our visitors have come from: Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Italy, East and West Germany, Austria, Spain, Greece, Yugoslavia, Denmark, Holland, Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Egypt, Israel, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, six different states in the Soviet Union, Japan and China; in the Boston Studies, there are writers from Viet Nam and India, too.

As to the development and purpose of the Boston Studies, now 90 actual, and 20 potential, see the preface to the 25th Anniversary volume.

R.S. Cohen


Twenty Five Years (1960 – 1985)

Alternative text – include a link to the PDF!