Mystic, Geometer, and Intuitionist: The Life of L. E. J. Brouwer: Volume 2: Hope and Disillusion

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9780198516200: Mystic, Geometer, and Intuitionist: The Life of L. E. J. Brouwer: Volume 2: Hope and Disillusion
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Luitzen Egbertus Jan Brouwer is a remarkable figure, both in the development of mathematics and in wider Dutch history. A mathematical genius with strong mystical and philosophical leanings, he advocated the intuitionist view of mathematics and science as a constructive mental activity. This drew him into a discussion with David Hilbert, the leading advocate of the formalist school, about the nature of mathematics, a debate which made Brouwer a legend during his lifetime. He also contributed significantly to research in topology, and was a member of the socio-linguistic Signific Circle. As well as his diverse mathematical interests he had a great impact in wider Dutch society. His keen sense of justice made him a party in many conflicts, both scientific and political. He would often be involved in controversial issues, such as the campaign to undo the boycott of German scientists, and this made him a figure both of admiration and embarrassment in his native Holland. Although his abilities won him offers from prestigious universities such as Berlin and Gottingen, he preferred to stay in Amsterdam, so that he could pursue a life of quiet unconventionality in the artist community at Laren. This book, the second in a two-volume set, provides a sophisticated analysis of this crucial era of mathematical research, but also gives an important insight into the wider life of one of the most fascinating characters involved.

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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 very scholarly work, make no mistake. The author combed through correspondence and archives; he interviewed colleagues, friends and family of the protagonist; and he does not shrink from detailed mathematical exegesis. Van Dalen's craft is in making the characters come alive. He is a consummate story-teller and keen observer of human nature who paints portraits of complex, often self-contradictory personalities participating in the conflicts and controversies of an era of tumultuous intellectual, political and social upheaval. The book is as lively and compelling as a good novel."--Mathematical Association of America


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