The focus of my research
concerns the complex relations between the history of philosophy and the
history of science.
I am especially interested in the history of the concept of
space in connection with the development of geometry and related sciences. My foremost
contribution to the topic is my book Geometry
and Monadology, in which I attempt a new interpretation of Leibniz’s
metaphysics in the light of his geometrical writings on the analysis situs, and also to articulate his contribution to the birth of modern
I am currently working to a book project that describes the surfacing of a geometry
of space from classical geometry. Although the central figures in this project
remain those philosophers and mathematicians in the eighteenth century that firstly
envisaged the possibility of a geometry of space, my own interests also broaden toward the long-term
development of the concept of a mathematical space, trying to single out the
most relevant scientific and philosophical episodes in the ancient and modern
times that represent the “prehistory” of the above-mentioned geometrical
revolution: from the Neoplatonic epistemology of Late Antiquity, which in the
works of Proclus, Simplicius and Philoponus foreshadows a new concept of space
that will deeply influence the Early-Modern discussions (Piccolomini, Barozzi,
Pereira); or the developments of medieval mathematics (especially in the
Islamic countries), which introduced very subtle arguments about the use of
motion in geometric space, that will be further discussed in the Euclidean
commentaries of the Renaissance (Clavius, Peletier); or yet the new
naturalistic philosophy of the Renaissance, which in the works of Francesco
Patrizi and Tommaso Campanella opens to a (still naïve and tentative) geometry of
space, that is, in turn, mathematically developed by Giambattista Benedetti or
Giovanni Alfonso Borelli.
In connection with this project, I have also worked extensively on
the rise of non-Euclidean geometries. My second book is an
Italian translation and commentary on Gerolamo Saccheri’s Euclides Vindicatus, which is currently being translated into English (for Springer). I am preparing a similar English edition (also for Springer) of Lambert’s Theorie der Parallellinien.
I am also very interested in Kant's philosophy of mathematics in connection with the developments of 18th-century geometry in Germany, and I am writing several papers on these issues.
I am also pursuing projects that concern the history of topology and the epistemology of space at the beginning of the 20th century, the debate on conventionalism, and the philosophy of mathematics in the Vienna Circle, Cassirer, and Husserl.
Vincenzo De Risi graduated in both philosophy and mathematics at the University
of Rome, and got his Ph.D. in philosophy at the Scuola Normale Superiore in
Pisa. He held a one-year fellowship at the Istituto Italiano per gli Studi
Storici in Naples, a DAAD fellowship at the Leibniz-Archiv in Hannover, and was
visiting scholar at the History and Philosophy of Science Dept. of Pittsburgh University, as well as at the Warburg Institute in London. Before joining the MPIWG, he held a three-year
position as Junior Fellow in history of logic and philosophy of science at the
Scuola Normale Superiore, and was for one year Humboldt Research Fellow at the
Technische Universität Berlin.