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