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Newton Carneiro Affonso da Costa
Professor Emeritus of Unicamp
We see only what we know. The phrase, attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, exalts in its contrapositive, the merit of those who know without seeing. Newton Carneiro Affonso da Costa knew how to crystallize, in a series of perfectly consistent logical calculations, the power of contradictory reasoning in science and philosophy, and enterprise Heraclitus, Hegel, Marx, Wittgenstein and Popper suspected to be possible, but no one did.
Designed between 1954 and 1958, and presented in seminars and conferences at the Federal University of Paraná and at the University of São Paulo, the paraconsistent calculi show mathematically that not only contradictions can be maintained on theories and contexts that express rational knowledge, but with the profit that those thinkers had philosophically conjectured.
Having presented his ideas at the meeting of the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science held in Curitiba in July 1962, da Costa published his first notes about parconsistent calculi in "Ciência e Cultura" in the same year of 1962. Working independently, but are competing with the Polish logician Stanislaw Jaskowski (who published a paper in 1948, but only published in English in 1967) and with the North-American mathematician David Nelson in 1957, the undeniable fact is that his calculi were the first to bestow the format needed for processing the contradictions that the new science, together with the old philosophy, would need. Half a century later not only the philosophical debate, but the theory of information, linguistics, quantum physics and psychoanalysis use the intellectual tool that is one of the great triumphs of Brazilian science.
Born September 16, 1929 in Curitiba, Paraná, son of Dimas Carneiro Affonso da Costa and Sylvia Carneiro Affonso da Costa, Newton da Costa is married to Neusa Feitosa Affonso da Costa, and father of Newton da C.A da Costa Júnior, Sylvia Lúcia F.A. da Costa and Marcelo F.A. da Costa. Since his youth da Costa has been interested in issues of Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics. With the support of one of his uncles, Milton Carneiro, then Professor of History of Philosophy at the Federal University of Parana, started reading philosophy through French translations of the dialogues of Plato and texts of Aristotle.
Graduated from the Federal University of Paraná: in Civil Engineering in 1952, and holding a degree in Mathematics in 1955, da Costa received a doctoral degree in mathematics in 1961, becoming Full Professor in the Mathematical Analysis and Higher Analysis, and received the title of professor in the same area in 1964. He taught for 14 years at the Federal University of Paraná, was Associate Director of the Institute of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science at Unicamp, in 1967, Professor of Institute of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science at Unicamp between 1968 and 1969, Professor of the Institute of Mathematics and Statistics of USP between 1970 and 1981, Professor of the Department of Philosophy at the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences of USP, between 1982 and 1999. Crowning a career of more than 50 years dedicated to education, he is currently Visiting Professor at the Department of Philosophy, Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC).
During the period when he was teaching at UNICAMP, da Costa actively participated in the Graduate Program in Logic and Philosophy of Science of the Department of Philosophy of the Institute of Philosophy and Human Sciences (IFCH).
Visionary and sensitive to national weaknesses and new opportunities, Newton da Costa had an important role in creating the Centre for Logic, Epistemology and History of Science (CLE) in 1976/1977, giving a decisive support to Oswaldo Pereira Porchat in his project, and keeping up to date as one of CLE's most important and active members. In 1977, together with Ayda Arruda Ignez, da Costa conceived the creation of the Brazilian Logic Society (SBL), since then based on the CLE, and was its first President.
In 1982 he founded the first journal of international circulation in the area of non-classical logic, "The Journal of Non-Classical Logic", and acted as the first editor of this journal that was merged in 1991 with the "The Journal of Applied Non-Classical Logic", edited by Hermes / Lavoisier - France.
Man of political convictions, never ceased to share ideas with his students, and had his share of difficulties during the rigid authoritarian period in Brazil. da Costa is winner of several national and international titles, among them:
  • Honorary Member of the Institute of Philosophy of Peru, in 1975;
  • Honorary Member of the Research Institute of Philosophy of the University of Lima in 1980;
  • Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences of Chile in 1982;
  • Member of the Academy of Sciences of the State of São Paulo, Brazil, in 1978;
  • Member of the Institut International de Philosophie in Paris in 1989, becoming the first Brazilian to belong to that institution.
Newton da Costa also received several awards during his career, among which are:
  • Moinho Santista Prize in Exact Sciences in 1994;
  • Jabuti Prize in Exact Sciences in 1995;
  • Pinheiro Medal of the Order of the State Government of Paraná, for scientific merit, in 1996;
  • Scientific Medal of Merit "Nicolaus Copernicus", awarded by the University of Torun, Poland, in 1998;
  • Scientific Medal of Merit of the Federal University of Paraná and the Association of Former Students in 1998;
  • Title of Citizen Emeritus of Paraná, also for scientific merit, in 1999;
Diligent and aware of his role in the national academic scene, Newton da Costa published around 250 papers, books, articles and notes. But the intense dedication of Professor da Costa has never been limited to scientific work only: he has been also dedicated to the guidance of several students in Master's Dissertations and Doctoral Theses of, helping to form the first generation of logicians who belonged or belongs to UNICAMP, among them: Walter A. Carnielli, Luiz Paulo de Alcantara, Antonio Mario Sette, Andrea Loparic, Ayda I. Arruda, Itala Maria Loffredo D'Ottaviano, Elias H. Alves and Lafayaette de Moraes. His academic descendanes occupy academic positions in several Brazilian institutions, such as UNICAMP, USP, UNESP, PUC-SP, UFPr, UFSC, UFRGS, UFSM, UFPA, UFBa, UFRN, UFCE, and in universities in Argentina, Colombia, Switzerland, Germany, France and the United States.
The magnitude and impact of the work of the Coast made him one of the most cited Brazilian scientists. Specialized meetings have been devoted, in part or in whole, to discuss and debate his work in Brazil, Belgium, Poland, United States, Canada, Denmark and Italy.
The creative and innovative work of da Costa and his unquestionable academic leadership were crucial to the emergence of an internationally recognized "Brazilian School of Logic".

 
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