My research

My research is focused on two main fields: contemporary European Thought (sometimes called "Continental philosophy") and the Philosophy and History of AI and Cognitive Science. 
Continental philosophy and Artificial Intelligence share the same critical stance toward classic Western philosophical theories. In my view, classic AI (and, more broadly speaking, classic AI and Cybernetics) are genuine philosophical attempts which, in their own right and with their own methodologies, tried to provide alternative and comprehensive philosophical views in response to the perceived inability of classical Western philosophy to address basic questions about the nature of rationality and cognition; the role of emotions in human life; the placement of humans in the cosmos and, in particular, their relationship with other animal forms; the nature of intentional (purposive) behavior; the quest for an optimal social organization that would allow human beings to flourish; and so on.
These are the same questions that 20th European philosophy has continuously struggled with, starting with the (almost contemporary) refoundations of philosophy attempted by Edmund Husserl in 1900 and by the Logical positivists a few years later. In my (and not only my) view, the fundamental issue 20th Century Western philosophy struggles with is the apparent incompatibility between philosophy and history, as I argue in this paper on Hegel ([1]) and in more general terms in these papers on the various forms of the end of philosophy [2], [3], [4]).
I discuss in detail this interpretation of Artificial Intelligence in my works on Herbert Simon ([5], [6], [7],[8]) and in a general analysis of AI from a metaphysical point of view ([9]). I have also made the same point indirectly in several books on the relationship between Artificial Intelligence and the Humanities I edited: [10], [11], [12], [13], [14].
My research shows---from both the historical and theoretical standpoint---how close these two traditions actually are. For instance in [15] and [16] I show how W. Ross Ashby's conception of cognition and---indeed, of human cognitive and affective life in general---is very close to Freud's and Lacan's view. In [17] I show how Lévi-Strauss theory can be fruitfully interpreted from the point of view of game theory and AI.
I have now extended my approach to the emerging field of the “Digital Humanities.” Humanists would do well, I argue, to retain one of the basic insights of Artificial Intelligence: computing technology is a basic investigative tool, a sort of microscope for theoretical work. This claim provides the basis for an argument---developed here [18] and in several presentations--in favor of a redirection of the “Digital Humanities” in a more theoretical direction.
Although my research work is rooted in historical analysis, my goals are theoretical. They are political as well, since Western philosophy, from Plato's times on, has always tied its most abstract ontological speculations to the most practical and worldly concerns. My current main project tries to provide a comprehensive ontological and political theory by providing a positive reassessment of the notion of passivity since its emergence in Aristotle's work and by reinterpreting, in that light, the articulation of (human and not only human) passions.


  1. Franchi, Stefano . “Telos And Terminus: Hegel And The End Of Philosophy”. Idealistic Studies 28.1/2 (1998): 35–46. Print.
  2. Franchi, Stefano . “Hunters, Cooks, And Nooks”. Diacritics 33 (2005): 98-109. Print.
  3. Franchi, Stefano . “Passive Politics”. Contretemps (2004): n. pag. Web.
  4. Franchi, Stefano . “Of Chess, Games, And Flies”. Essays In Philosophy 6 (2005): n. pag. Web.
  5. Franchi, Stefano . “Herbert Simon, Anti-Philosopher”. Computing And Philosophy. Lorenzo Magnani. Pavia, 2006. 27-40. Print.
  6. Franchi, Stefano . “Intelligenza Artificiale Come Scienza, Metafisica, O Epistemologia. Note In Margine Ad Uno Scambio Con Herbert Simon”. Verso Un'archeologia Dell'intelligenza Artificiale. Stefano Franchi, Francesco Bianchini, & Maurizio Matteuzzi. Macerata, 2007. 19-39. Print.
  7. Franchi, Stefano . “L'intelligenza Artificiale E La Teoria Dei Giochi. Un'indagine Storico-Critica”. Percezione, Linguaggio, Coscienza. Percorsi Tra Cognizione E Intelligenza Artificiale. Maurizio Matteuzzi & Francesco Bianchini. Macerata, 2004. 63-88. Print.
  8. Franchi, Stefano , and Bianchini, Francesco . “On The Historical Dynamics Of Cognitive Science: A View From The Periphery”. The Search For A Theory Of Cognition. Early Mechanisms And New Ideas. Stefano Franchi & Francesco Bianchini. Amsterdam, 2011. xi-xxvi. Print.
  9. Verso Un'archeologia Dell'intelligenza Artificiale. Verso Un'archeologia Dell'intelligenza Artificiale. Stefano Franchi, Francesco Bianchini, & Maurizio Matteuzzi. Macerata, 2007. Web.
  10. Mechanical Bodies, Computational Minds. Mechanical Bodies, Computational Minds. Stefano Franchi & Güven Güzeldere. Cambridge, 2005. Print.
  11. Franchi, Stefano . “Life, Death, And Resurrection Of W. Ross Ashby's Homeostat”. The Search For A Theory Of Cognition: Early Mechanisms And New Ideas. 2011. 3–52. Print.
  12. Franchi, Stefano . “Les Jeux Anaclastiques De Lévi-Strauss”. Le Moment Philosophique Des Années 1960 En France. Patrice Maniglier. Paris, 2010. 125–141. Print.
  13. Franchi, Stefano . “The Past, Present, And Future Encounters Between Computation And The Humanities”. Theory And Philosophy Of Artificial Intelligence. Vincent Müller. Berlin, 2012. Print.

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