Person: Lakatos, Imre
Imre Lakatos was a Hungarian philosopher of mathematics and science, who moved to Britain after the Russian invasion of Hungary in 1953.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Imre had spent the war years at the University of Debrecen and he graduated in 1944 with a degree in mathematics, physics and philosophy.
- To avoid the Nazi persecution of Jews he changed his name to Imre Molnár, and he survived while others of Jewish descent were deported to the gas chambers of German concentration camps.
- After the war ended Imre, who by this time was an active communist, realised that he would have difficulty wearing his old shirts with "I.
- L." on them when his name was now Imre Molnár.
- He may have borrowed the name from the Hungarian general Géza Lakatos who headed a peace seeking Hungarian government for a short while before the Germans put their own man in charge.
- At least Imre Lakatos could now wear his "I.
- Lakatos earned his living translating mathematics books into Hungarian.
- Lakatos realised that he was about to be arrested and fled to Vienna.
- Eventually Lakatos found his way to England and he began to study at the University of Cambridge for a doctorate in philosophy.
- In 1960 Lakatos was appointed to the London School of Economics and he taught there for 14 years until his death.
- Lakatos published Proofs and Refutations in 1963-64 in four parts in the British Journal for Philosophy of Science.
- During his lifetime Lakatos refused to publish the work as a book since he intended to improve it.
- Mathematics develops, according to Lakatos, in a much more dramatic and exciting way - by a process of conjecture, followed by attempts to 'prove' the conjecture (i.e. to reduce it to other conjectures) followed by criticism via attempts to produce counter-examples both to the conjectured theorem and to the various steps in the proof.
- Lakatos wrote a number of papers on the philosophy of mathematics before moving on to write more generally on the philosophy of science.
- Lakatos died at a time when he was highly productive with many plans to publish new work, make replies to his critics and apply his ideas to new areas.
Born 9 November 1922, Debrecen, Hungary. Died 2 February 1974, London, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive