First European Center “History of Women Philosophers and Scientists” opened

24.10.16: North-Rhine Westphalia is supporting the project with 1.3 million euros

On Monday the 24th of October, the first European Center for the “History of Women Philosophers and Scientists“(HWPS) led by Prof. Dr. Ruth Hagengruber, was inaugurated at Paderborn University.

The inauguration ceremony was opened by the Science Minister of the State North Rhine-Westphalia, Svenja Schulze. The Center has dedicating itself to the research into the history of female scientists and philosophers. Amongst others, Prof. Dr. Elisabeth de Sotelo of University of Koblenz and Landau, Prof. Dr. Saffet Babür of Yedetepe University, Prof. Dr. Barry Smith, the current editor of The Monist, and Prof. Dr. Klaus Mainzer, the founder of the Munich Center for Technology in Society and an advisor of the project, gave welcoming speeches. Prof. Dr. Mary Ellen Waithe of Cleveland State University in Ohio, who was also teaching at the I. Autumn School at the Center, gave a ceremonial speech.

Photo (Paderborn University, Johannes Pauly): (f.r.t.l.) Svenja Schulze, Secretary for Science NRW, Head of the Center Prof. Dr. Ruth Hagengruber, Prof. Dr. Saffet Babür, Yeditepe Üniversitesi in Istanbul, Simone Probst, vice president of Paderborn University, Dr. Klaus Mainzer, Technical University of Munich, Prof. Dr. Mary Ellen Waithe, Cleveland State University in Ohio, Prof. Dr. Barry Smith, University at Buffalo in New York.

In her welcoming address, Svenja Schulze stated that she was instantly fascinated by the idea of a Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists, when she first heard about it: “Today we are able to fund this project with 1.3 million euros. I am sure that the Center for the “History of Women Philosophers and Scientists” will make the historical accomplishments of women in science visible internationally and I am very proud that we are the first to actively pursue this endeavour.”

Simone Probst, vice-president for Economic- and Personnel Administration, added that “the Center matches the philosophy of this University and it is perfectly suitable for this institution”. Simone Probst continued that she was especially pleased with the extensive commitment to the project, which was shown prior to the inauguration of the Center. She concluded: “With this Center, Paderborn has become the ideal place to create a connection between philosophy and natural science”. Prof. Dr. Volker Peckhaus, the Dean of the Faculty for Cultural Studies, agreed: “I am proud, that years of interdisciplinary work on female philosophers can now be crowned with success by the opening of this Center.

The keynote speaker, Prof. Dr. Mary Ellen Waithe, recounted her first endeavours into the research of previously unknown female philosophers. She proposed ways in which to fascinate women with philosophy.

In her welcoming address, Prof. Dr. Ruth Hagengruber, Faculty for Cultural Studies, illustrated the aims and necessity of the Center: “The history of women philosophers dates just as far back as the history of male philosophers – but only one of these groups is present: This must be changed.” The knowledge won will have an even stronger influence on the education of teachers in the future, says Prof. Dr. Hagengruber. These, according to her, are the main multipliers that enable the clarification of the fact that there are not only great male philosophers and their teachings. The amassed knowledge is eventually to be summarized in a digital encyclopaedia.

Aside from the research into the history of female scientists, the Center is also dedicated to the examination of the writings of these women of the 18th century and early female phenomenologists. Together with cooperating partners in Australia, Israel, Canada, the USA, and a European network including states such as Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, Croatia, Spain, Turkey, and Hungary it is the aim to strengthen this connection with potential interested parties.

The globally influential philosopher, Barry Smith, from the University at Buffalo in New York, attended the inauguration and, in his address, congratulated the center to this unique project. Klaus Mainzer will assist the center as an advisor and will support the project in relation to scientists in mathematics and informatics.

(Text: originally by Johannes Pauly, Paderborn University)

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