Newton Carneiro Affonso da Costa knew how to crystallize, in a series of consistent logical calculations, the power of contradictory reasoning in science and philosophy.
Designed between 1954 and 1958, and presented in seminars and conferences at the Federal University of Paraná and at the University of São Paulo, his paraconsistent calculi show mathematically that contradictions can be maintained on theories and contexts that express rational knowledge. Working independentlly of other contemporary logicians, 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, among others use such intellectual tool.
Born on September 16, 1929 in Curitiba, Paraná, since his youth da Costa has been interested in issues of Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics and of Science in general.
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 Mathematical Analysis and Higher Analysis 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 the University of Campinas in 1967, Professor of the Institute of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science at the University of Campinas between 1968 and 1969, Professor of the Institute of Mathematics and Statistics of the University of São Paulo between 1970 and 1981, Professor of the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences at the University of São Paulo between 1982 and 1999. Crowning a career of more than 50 years dedicated to education and science, he is currently Visiting Professor at the Department of Philosophy at the Federal University of Santa Catarina.
Newton da Costa had an important role in the creation of the Centre for Logic, Epistemology and the History of Science (CLE) in 1976/1977, keeping up to date as one of CLE’s most important and active members. In 1977, together with Ayda Ignez Arruda, da Costa conceived the creation of the Brazilian Logic Society (SBL), since then based on the CLE, and was its first President.
Yet in the 70’s da Costa was also one of the conceivors of the Latin- American Symposia on Mathematical Logic (SLALM), having been President of the Committee on Logic in Latin-America of the Association for Symbolic Logic (ASL).
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 jornal, that was merged in 1991 with the “Journal of Applied Non-Classical Logic”, now published by Taylor & Francis.
He never ceased to share ideas with his students, and had his share of difficulties during the period of rigid authoritarian military dictatorship in Brazil.
Diligent and aware of his role in the Brazilian academic scene, Newton da Costa published more than 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, helping to form the first generation of Brazilian and Latin-American logicians.
Da Costa received several awards during his career and is the winner of several Brazilian and international titles.
The magnitude and impact of da Costa’s work 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 and several other countries.
The creative and innovative work of da Costa and his unquestionable academic leadership ennoble the Brazilian Philosophy and Science, and were crucial to the emergence of an internationally recognized “Brazilian School of Paraconsistent Logic”.