Project Description

Home / Members /Graduate Students/ Nicholas Birmingham


  • Diagrams and Notation in the History of Science 

  • Semiotics and Pragmaticism 

  • Continental Philosophy (Leibniz, Kant, Cavaillès, Deleuze, Châtelet) 




Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism, Western University 

Nicholas Birmingham is a doctoral student at the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism at Western University. He received his H.B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in Theory and Criticism from Western University. Currently, his research is supervised by Dr. Antonio Calcagno and concerns moments in the history of science where diagrammatic/notational experiments play an operative role in the process of reasoning.

His primary research interest concerns diagrammatic thinking, i.e. the way in which diagrams and notation function as a graphical means of formalizing and prompting intuitive insights into problems. He approaches this phenomenon from three different philosophical perspectives: Semiotics, French Epistemology, and Transcendental Philosophy. Through the Peircean category of iconicity, it becomes possible to theorize how the vagueness of indeterminate relations is both deployed and solicited through graphical experiments. The French philosophy of science, from Cavaillès to Châtelet, stresses how scientific disciplines (including moments of rupture) must be understood through their historical development. Lastly, transcendental philosophy (as explicated by both Immanuel Kant and Salomon Maimon) emphasizes that the role of reason in theoretical knowledge is essentially regulative, i.e. to supply rules which unify the faculties of cognition. Taken together, this project is an historical investigation into the mathematical sciences which shows how graphical experiments a creative yet rigorous way of concretizing intuition and recasting problems.  

“Fiction (Fabrication) by Salomon Maimon,” Translated by Nicholas Birmingham, Chiasma Vol. 8 (forthcoming 2023) 165-173. 

  • “Interlacing the Icon and Intuition in Diagrammatic Thought” 2023 American Philosophical Association Central Division (24 Feb. 2023). 
  • “Fiction, Symbol, Infinitesimal: The Leibnizian Concepts of Transcendental Philosophy” 15th Annual Conference of The Leibniz Society of North America (6 Nov. 2021). 
  • “Icon and Intuition: The Diagrammatic Thought of Kant and Peirce,” 2018 – 2019 Theory Sessions (1 March 2019). 

Winter 2023, History of Communication, Western University (TA) 

Fall 2022, Political Economy of Media, Western University (TA) 

Fall/Winter 2021-2022, Survey of British Literature, Western University (TA) 

Fall 2018, Introduction to Film Studies, Western University (TA) 

Winter 2018, Political Economy of Media, Western University (TA) 

Fall 2017, The Body, Western University (TA) 

Learn About Rotman Trainee Opportunities
Learn About Our Postdoctoral Fellowship Program