Our areas of research


The Jean Pépin Centre focuses first and foremost on ancient philosophy and its influence on the history of philosophy throughout the Arab, Byzantine, and Latin worlds, as well as from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. While stressing the importance of Platonism and Neoplatonism, it also includes the Aristotelian, Epicurean, and Stoic traditions. It underscores the relevance of close ties between Antiquity’s significant body of scientific work (Galen, Vitruvius, Ptolemy) and its philosophy. Ultimately it strives to highlight the roles that ancient philosophy and its doctrines play in addressing contemporary challenges of philosophy.

Ecdotics and philology

For many years closely associated with the Institute of textual traditions of the CNRS (FR33), the Jean Pépin Center stresses the relevance of texts and their transmission in shaping philosophical doctrines and, more broadly, knowledge. In that framework, it has developed a fourfold specialization: the ecdotics of philosophical texts and the specific challenges arising from examining them forensically; coding of the manuscripts of Arab philosophy; the relationship between text and image when transmitting the significant body of scientific works in the Arab world and in Latin Renaissance; without neglecting the contributions made by new digital technologies to textual analysis.

History of science and technology

The Jean Pépin Center examines the influence exerted by Antiquity’s body of scientific and technical works (Galen, Vitruvius, Ptolemy) on the evolution of knowledge in medieval Arab culture and the Latin Renaissance of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Research places substantial emphasis on the new rationalities being created, and even more so on the role of images in this evolution.

Art theories

The Jean Pépin Center examines the impact that Antiquity’s body of works (Vitruvius and Pliny the Elder) on the elaboration of art theories from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. Although Alberti’s treatises rank high in these research activities, our focus also embraces the neoclassical treatises of Milizia or Quatremère de Quincy. The theoretical approach, focusing largely on the reasoning behind architecture and, more broadly speaking, the creation of art, makes it possible to engage in a very rich dialogue on the contemporary challenges facing architecture and urban planning and, as a result, the notion of sustainable development in which architecture plays a key role.

Research on cultural heritage

From these research activities, a specific issue of the utmost importance has emerged: heritage assets, whether written or artistic, which in turn require thinking about the idea of transmission. The Jean Pépin Center is deeply committed to implementing two heritage protection and transmission projects: Key Research Sector (DIM) “Arab and Syriac philosophy manuscript heritage in Île-de-France and elsewhere: Treasures yet to be discovered and circuits of dissemination (PhASIF)” and “The Baroque Way.” These concrete activities are coupled with theoretical reflections on the philosophical and legal cornerstone for consolidating and transmitting cultural heritage assets.

Digital humanities

The Jean Pépin Center has not confined its work to developing the digital foundations for the benefit of the scientific community, it also strives, in this context, to create new functionalities to enrich scientific information, while fostering an ethical approach to the digital world: support for free and open access, concern over ensuring long-term data sustainability, and collaborative approaches. It is also involved in developing digital tools for the benefit of textual analysis.

Our research agenda

The Center’s research subjects are as follows:

  • Philosophy, rhetoric, and anthropology of the ancient world
  • Arab philosophy and the manuscript tradition in the Near East
  • Ecdotic skills and techniques
  • Artistic knowledge and treatises on art from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment


  • ABJAD (Arab manuscripts)
  • Panckoucke Encyclopedia (in a partnership with the University of Chicago’s American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language (ARTFL))
  • IPhiS (Philological information – Ancient knowledge)
  • Index of sources of ancient philosophy
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