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Gabriel Sandu

Born November 6, 1954, Bucharest (Romania)

Master of Arts 1984, PhD 1991, docent in theoretical philosophy 1992, University of Helsinki
Master of Economics 1978, Academy of Economic Sciences (Bucharest)

Professor of theoretical philosophy 1998– and director of studies 2010­–, University of Helsinki
Acting professor 2007–2008, professor 2008–2009, Pantheon-Sorbonne University
Research professor 2004–2007, International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Group, the French National Centre for Scientific Research
Director of the Department of Philosophy 2001–2003, University of Helsinki
Member of the departmental council of the Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies 2010–, University of Helsinki

Publications, research projects and other academic activities

Research themes
The philosophy of language, logic, formal semantics, anaphora, truth theory

Romanian presidential award of merit in the field of culture 2015
Member of the Academia Europaea
Member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters
Vice-chairman of the International Institute of Philosophy

Photo: Gabriel Sandu's home archive
Written by Gabriel Sandu (Tomas Sjöblom, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Scholarship of the Highest Order at the Sorbonne

Working in the heart of Paris at a top research institute (International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Group) was a great experience, one which was not diminished even by the fact that there were three of us researchers in a research cubicle measuring a mere six square metres. The team spirit was incredible!

The research institute had a long tradition: earlier it had been the centre of French epistemology, and now it was the best in France in the fields of logic and the philosophy of science. There were several research seminars a week at the institute, and for five years I led the seminars on formal philosophy (PhilForm).

Contrary to what one might think, lifetime tenure does not make a researcher lazy. Quite the opposite in fact: when there is no need to waste time worrying about publishing or funding, you can make long-term research plans, and it will show in the quality of the research. This used to be understood better!

After working for two years at the National Centre of Scientific Research (CNRS), I received a job offer from the Sorbonne. I left the CNRS and accepted a professorship at the Pantheon-Sorbonne University (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne). Compared to Helsinki the pace of teaching at the Sorbonne was tough: there was significantly more teaching, and the course exams were given orally and lasted an entire day. Giving exams was not made easier by the fact that la chambre des professeurs was in constant use, and it was a challenge just to find room. But the Sorbonne did make up for these small inconveniences, for instance by allowing us to order champagne for Christmas straight from the producers at heart-warming discounts.

I particularly admired the learnedness of my French colleagues. Inspired by them I published a book in French with my colleague Francois Rivenci titled Entre Logique et Langage (2009). The history of philosophy played a central role in the curriculum at the Sorbonne, and a wide-ranging erudition had also been imparted to the students as a natural continuation of the French lycée. The students would not have settled for writing short essays; rather, they wanted to write considerably lengthier French dissertations, which dealt comprehensively with both the background and history of the topic.

The years I spent in Paris were a great experience and a tremendous addition to my career as a philosopher, but I nevertheless missed Helsinki and my alma mater. Therefore, I resigned my professorship at the Sorbonne and returned to Helsinki in 2009—just in time to arrive right in the middle of the university reform process.

The Great Amphitheater of the Pantheon-Sorbonne University. Photo by Lionel Allorge/Wikipedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0.


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