Philosophia Mathematica 15 (1):111-116 (2007)

Dirk Van Dalen
Utrecht University
Volume 1 of this biography of L. E. J. Brouwer was published in 1999.1 The volume under review here covers the period from the early nineteen twenties until Brouwer's death in 1966. It also includes a short epilogue that discusses the disposition of Brouwer's estate after his death, his influence on others, the paths of some of his students and colleagues, and other matters. Van Dalen notes in the Preface that in preparing this volume he consulted some historical studies that appeared after the first volume was published. He also used new material from various archives. The biography contains interesting quotations from unpublished materials in the Brouwer Archive and from correspondence. The bibliographical references to Brouwer's publications, it should be noted, are somewhat different in this volume. This volume, like the first, contains some nice photographs and reproductions. I noted that there were many typographical errors in the earlier book but Volume 2 is relatively free of them.As is the case in Volume 1, the discussion of Brouwer's mathematical and philosophical work is woven into the narrative of Brouwer's life and times. The story in this volume starts with Brouwer's first contacts with Paul Alexandrov and Paul Urysohn in 1923. The interaction began when Urysohn announced that he had found a mistake in Brouwer's definition of dimension in Brouwer's 1913 paper on natural dimension. Was it just a slip of the pen, as Brouwer always maintained, or something more substantial? Urysohn and Alexandrov ultimately came to agree with Brouwer on the matter, and Urysohn was prepared to grant Brouwer priority for the definition of dimension. There were, however, ups and downs along the way. Karl Menger, through his own work in topology and dimension theory, soon got into the picture, and Brouwer and Menger were to …
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DOI 10.1093/philmat/nkl025
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