Career at the ULB

Perelman had been a professor at the Université libre de Bruxelles since 1944 and as of 1946 he took responsibility for the philosophy seminar and the Centre national de Recherche de Logique. He also presided over the Belgian Society of Philosophy from 1955 till 1958 and the Philosophy and Literature Faculty of the ULB from 1959 till 1962. In 1962 he was awarded Belgium’s greatest scientific distinction for his tireless activity as a researcher: the Francqui Foundation honoured him with the Francqui Prize for his body of work; this was the first time ever that it had been awarded to a philosopher. In 1958, Perelman published his major work, the Traité de l'argumentation (Paris, 1958), which was subsequently translated into numerous languages. This book was at the origin of an intellectual current, the New Rhetoric, which would have a decisive influence on the number of people specialising in Humanities.

In 1977, Perelman again published L’empire rhétorique (Paris, 1977), which brought together his argumentation theory. In 1948, he had already founded and presided over the Société belge de Logique et de Philosophie des Sciences [Belgian Society of Logic and Philosophy of Sciences]. He was Vice-President of the UNESCO expert committee for the study of the notion of democracy (1951), Secretary General of the Fédération internationale des Sociétés de Philosophie [International Federation of Philosophical Societies] (1953) and presided over the ULB’s School of Educational Sciences (1953-1956). As co-director of the Logique et Analyse review, Perelman was a member of the editorial committee of several international scientific reviews and participated in the organisation of numerous philosophy congresses throughout the world. He was head of the ULB’s Institute of Philosophy (1964-1967) and taught at the Université libre de Bruxelles until his retirement in 1978. As of 1962, he also taught logic, metaphysics and moral philosophy in various European and American universities. He was a Docteur honoris causa of the Universities of Florence (Italy), Jerusalem (Israel) and Montreal (Canada), Chaïm Perelman was a member of the Royal Academy of Belgium (1973), the Science Academy of Heidelberg (Germany), the National Italian Academy and the Bologna Academy of Sciences (Italy), in addition to being a correspondent for the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences of the Institut de France [French Institute]. Finally, combining his academic vocation and his interest in Jewish education and the sciences of Judaism, Chaïm Perelman also agreed to preside over the Scientific Council of the Institute for the Study of Judaism - Martin Buber Institute in 1972- he had already been a member of the Scientific Council of the Centre national des Hautes-Etudes juives [National Centre of Higher Jewish Studies] since 1961. He was the president of the Action Committee for Israel and honorary president of the Centre d'Information et de Documentation du Moyen-Orient. Chaïm Perelman was honoured by King Baudouin a few weeks before his death.

Source : Schreiber Jean-Philippe, “Perelman, Chaïm (baron)”, in Dictionnaire biographique des juifs de Belgique : Figures du judaïsme belge XIXe – XXe siècle, Brussels, De Boeck et Larcier s.a., 2002, p. 273-274.Translated from the French by Catherine Hall.

Here you can read the speech prepared by Perelman's colleagues when he was granted this honorary status. 

Perelman - Les archives