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Grand Hall of the University of Porto - Portrait Gallery

Pedro de Amorim Viana
Mathematician, philosopher, teacher and publicist

Portrait by J. Brito (1932)
Retrato de Pedro de Amorim Viana, pintado por J. Brito (1932) / Portrait of Pedro de Amorim Viana, painted by J. Brito (1932)

Biography of Pedro de Amorim Viana (1822-1901)

Pedro de Amorim Viana was born to a noble family on 21 December 1822, in Rua do Caldeira (now Fernandes Tomás), in the parish of Santa Catarina do Monte Sinai, Lisbon. He was the youngest son of João António de Amorim Viana and Maria Felizarda O'Neill de Amorim. He was baptized on 16 April 1823 and Pedro Rodrigues Bandeira was his godfather.

He lost his mother at the age of eight and his father when he was ten. At the age of 16, he was admitted to the College D. Pedro de Alcântara, in Fontenay-aux-Roses, on the outskirts of Paris. This College had been founded in 1838 by José da Silva Tavares for Portuguese and Brazilian students. A document issued by the French Ministry of Public Education, dated 1841, shows that the Conseil Royal de l'Instruction Publique authorized Pedro Amorim Viana to sit the "baccalauréat ès Lettres" exams. He passed and enrolled in the following year at the University of Coimbra, in the 1st year Mathematics, as a regular student, and in the 1st year of Philosophy.

He graduated in 1848, began teaching the chair of Logics at the National High School of Lisbon and was faculty member at the Polytechnic Academy of Porto. Along with Gustavo Adolfo Gonçalves e Sousa, in 1850 he competed for one of the vacant positions of substitute teacher in the Department of Mathematics of the Polytechnic Academy. From then on, Amorim Viana settled in Porto to live.
At the end of 1850, his name was suggested by the Board of Public Education to teach the 4th chair – Rational and Moral Philosophy and Principles of Natural Law, of the Western Department of the National High School of Lisbon. He took up office in January 1851.
By decree of 6 March, royal writ and Apostille of 9 June 1851, Amorim Viana was appointed substitute teacher of the Department of Mathematics (1st, 2nd, 3rd e 5th chairs) of the Polytechnic Academy of Porto, and moved to Rua Chã. He took up office on 21 June that year. In October, he offered to replace Vitorino Damásio in the chair of Descriptive Geometry and in 1852, when the latter moved to Madeira for health reasons, Pedro Amorim Viana was also responsible for teaching Mechanics. In 1858, he was promoted to permanent teacher of the 2nd chair - "Differential and Integral Calculus, Calculus of differences and variations or Differential and Integral Calculus; Descriptive Geometry, 2nd part", which he taught until 1869 (appointed by decree of 9 November 1858 and royal writ of 6 June 1859, taking up office on 1 August that year).

Due to his personality, he was not liked among the academia, and was even suspended by the Polytechnic Academy for several months. It was then that he published the brochure "Analysis of the Elementary Course of Philosophy of A. Ribeiro da Costa e Almeida" (1864) and his great Philosophical work "Defence of Rationalism or Analysis of Faith" (1866), which was included in the "Index Librorum Proibitorum" on 17 December that year. In 1873, he published the translation of "Memories of Madame Lafarge".

When he returned to the Polytechnic Academy of Porto, he taught the 3rd chair – "Descriptive Geometry, rational mechanics; Kinematics of machines" (between 1869 and 1879). On 10 August 1876, he was already permanent teacher of the 2nd chair, in the Department of Mathematics.

Alongside teaching Mathematics, Amorim Viana was a prominent analyst of the Portuguese 19th century speculative thought. He founded the Contemporary Portuguese group of Philosophy and was considered by many as the "first national philosopher". He was also an ardent publicist, author of numerous articles published in various periodicals, in particular in Porto. He collaborated in "A Península. Semanário Literário e Instrutivo" between 1852 and 1853, which he helped found and authored philosophical thoughts, and scientific and political articles. He also collaborated in "O Clamor Público", "Diário do Povo", "O Instituto. Jornal Científico e Literário", of Coimbra (in which he published a first mathematical work entitled "Evolução em Série dos Co-senos e dos Senos dos Arcos Múltiplos", 1864), "O Nacional", "A Gazeta Democrática do Povo (Do Povo para o Povo)", "O Vimaranense", "Jornal de Ciências Matemáticas e Astronómicas", owned by Gomes Teixeira, in "O Ensino. Jornal do Colégio Portuense. Dedicado aos pais", "A Renascença. Órgão dos Trabalhos da Geração Moderna" and in "Museu Ilustrado. Álbum Literário" of the Atena Society.

Pedro de Amorim Viana retired in 1883. From this year on, the eccentric "Newton", as he became known in the academic world, he settled with his family in Setúbal.
He died on 25 December 1901 at 89, Rua da Estrela, in Lisbon. He was buried in Prazeres Cemetery.

Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2012. Scientific Review by Jorge Fernandes Alves (FLUP)

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