Scientific Culture.

Conceptual migrations and Social Contaminations


The Council of Wise

and the Dilemmas of Public Reason




  The ever-growing complexity of the problems faced by contemporary societies has led to the dilemma: on the one hand, the need for consulting with experts cannot be dodged, if decisions are to be made on a rational basis on the other, such consulting leads to a reduced number of choices, and gives rise to the notion that those decisions which contradict the expertise stem directly from ignorance. This antinomy is prima facie the opposition between a representative democracy and a political regime built on the trust it assigns to those believed to be more knowledgeable. The ultimate assumption in this antinomy is the asymmetry of knowledge. An asymmetry which can lead to a tense relationship between science and politics, that is, an authoritarian rule by a caste of the enlightened over the illiterate masses. Thus the task to be undertaken is the study of the relationship between science and politics, from the standpoint of the concept of a Council of the Wise, since that relationship is attained, in institutional terms, as a function of the multiple forms this concept can assume. To begin, its emergence in the history of knowledge must be understood, namely the countless formulations for such a project (from Plato to Jonas). Secondly, the ways in which different knowledges must be articulated so these Councils can became a reality will be subject to analysis.

Research Team

  • Professora Olga Maria Pombo Martins (Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa)
  • Professor José Luis Câmara Leme (Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
  • Mestre Manuel de Jesus Rodrigues (Doutorando)
  • Dr. Jorge Maia