Mystic, Geometer, and Intuitionist: The Life of L. E. J. Brouwer Volume 1: The Dawning Revolution

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9780198502975: Mystic, Geometer, and Intuitionist: The Life of L. E. J. Brouwer Volume 1: The Dawning Revolution

A remarkable and independent thinker, Luitzen Egbertus Jan Brouwer was a leader in twentieth century mathematics and in Dutch cultural life, where he was the key figure in a number of controversial issues, including a campaign to reverse the boycott of German scientists. In mathematics, he was a founder of modern topology and the creator of intuitionism, one of the most important schools of thought on the philosophy of mathematics. This biography discusses his fascinating life and provides a detailed analysis of his work.

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About the Author:

Dirk Van Dalen is an Emeritus Professor of Logic, Philosophy and Foundations of Mathematics at University of Utrecht.

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"This is a dense and many-layered biography, like a rich dessert, and I found that I wanted to savor it in small bites. I came away understanding how Brouwer had earned his reputation as eccentric, revolutionary, reactionary, and prophet all at once. . . . I was charmed by van Dalen's description of the context in which Brouwer's work took place . . . I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and am looking forward to Volume 2. I hope many mathematicians read it, and thereby gain a much more accurate picture of Brouwer the mystic, geometer and intuitionist, as well as some understanding of the enigma of Brouwer, the man. . . . I enthusiastically recommend this book for professors and lovers of mathematics and its history. Bright college students should also enjoy it, and especially appreciate the sections that convey the flavor of what it meant to do mathematics in those heady times."--Mathematical Association of America Online


"This book ... covers the period from Brouwer's birth in 1881 to the middle of the nineteen twenties. ... On numerous occasions I felt compelled to press on in reading the book. The story itself is interesting but it helps that it is told with some humor and charm. ... Van Dalen gives us a richly textured account of Brouwer's life, personality, and views about a broad range of subjects ... He shows us how Brouwer's intuitionistic mathematics emerged from his own philosophy, mysticism and moral views, and he gives us a much better understanding of Brouwer's philosophy and its background. In addition, he includes a relatively accessible presentation of some of the main mathematical ideas. This in itself is no small feat. The book is sprinkled with interesting comments on scientific matters. ... [I]t is, on the whole, a superb contribution and can be highly recommended. I suspect that most readers will eagerly await the second volume."--Philosophia Mathematica


"Most of the book can be read by anyone interested in intellectual history. It is to a large extent a story of persons, war, and politics. One comes to know the person Brouwer from reading Van Dalen's book." -- Jan von Plato, Dept of Philosophy, University of Helsinki


"The book is well-illustrated, and includes examples from Brouwer's private hand-written notes (some on envelopes), corrections of page proofs of important papers, as well as dozens of photographs of Brouwer, his family, and colleagues around the world. The present biography, more than 20 years in the making, is an important contribution to the history of modern mathematics, and offers a detailed portrait of one of the early 20th century's most significant contributors." -- Joseph W. Dauben, Mathematical Reviews, 2000


"This exciting and well-researched in-depth study of Luitzen Egbertus Jan Brouwer ... is a great read. ... For more than twenty years this biography was in the making, and finally Volume 1 has seen the light of day. The struggle was mainly due to the fact that hardly any reliable data on Brouwer's life were available--although there were many juicy stories, mainly about his obnoxious character--and there were a huge number of internal developmental questions to be answered. The way van Dalen has acquitted himself is to be admired; he has produced a very finely tuned and well-balanced assessment of all the various aspects of Brouwer's life and work. ... There are well-known reservations about the appropriateness of biographies in the history of science. ... But I think that, given the gaps that existed in our understanding of the development of Brouwer's philosophy and his work, the only way they could be filled was through writing a biography."--British Journal for the History of Science


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