A missing link: The infuence of lászló kalmár's empirical view on Lakatos' philosophy of mathematics
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Perspectives on Science 14 (3):263-281 (2006)
The circumstance that the text of Imre Lakatos' doctoral thesis from the University of Debrecen did not survive makes the evaluation of his career in Hungary and the research of aspects of continuity of his lifework difficult. My paper tries to reconstruct these newer aspects of continuity, introducing the influence of László Kalmár the mathematician and his fellow student, and Sándor Karácsony the philosopher and his mentor on Lakatos' work. The connection between the understanding of the empirical basis of exact ideas—which is a common feature in the papers of the members of the Karácsony-circle—and Lakatos' way of thinking regarding mathematics is more direct and can be documented through his connection to Kalmár. The central element of Lakatos' philosophy of mathematics is criticism of formalism and his tendency is to use the empirical view. Discussions at the 1965 International Colloquium in the Philosophy of Science in London were very helpful in clarifying the quasi-empirical conception. Kalmár's lecture in London, based on one of his papers published by Karácsony in 1942, emphasized the empirical character of mathematics. After this colloquium some elements of the heritage of the Karácsony-circle were integrated again in the development of Lakatos' way of thinking. First I will analyze the Kalmár lecture of 1965 at the Colloquium of Philosophy of Science and Lakatos's reflections on the problem of the foundation of mathematics. Then I will present their common Hungarian background, their education and the beginning of their career, which have many important common features; third I draw attention to the network of contacts of Karácsony-disciples
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