Writing the Rules of Reason: Notations in Mathematical Logic, 1847-1937


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




In the decades around 1900, logicians came to see the study of valid inference as a mathematical science. This transformation changed systems of writing no less dramatically than the ideas they expressed. Each notation entailed a way of interacting with marks on paper, a manner of training students, and a vision for the use of formal logic. Examining five notations developed across five countries, this project grounds mathematical logic in local scientific, cultural, and political settings. A growing diversity of writing practices led logicians to consider symbolic methods as not just a tool but as an object of study. Appropriated mathematical inscriptions led to a science of symbolic systems at a time when such systems were becoming central to technological, economic, and bureaucratic life in Europe.