It is possible today to observe in hindsight the epistemological landscape of the twentieth century, and the work of Albert Lautman in mathematical philosophy appears as a profound turning point, opening to a true under- standing of creativity in mathematics and its relation with the real. Little understood in its time or even today, Lautman’s work explores the difficult but exciting intersection where modern mathematics, advanced mathe- matical invention, the structural or unitary relations of …
Read moreIt is possible today to observe in hindsight the epistemological landscape of the twentieth century, and the work of Albert Lautman in mathematical philosophy appears as a profound turning point, opening to a true under- standing of creativity in mathematics and its relation with the real. Little understood in its time or even today, Lautman’s work explores the difficult but exciting intersection where modern mathematics, advanced mathe- matical invention, the structural or unitary relations of mathematical knowledge and, finally, the metaphysical and dialectical tensions underly- ing mathematical activity converge. Well beyond other better-known names in philosophy of mathematics – who are focused above all on ques- tions concerning the logical problem of foundations, important but frag- mentary studies in the vast panorama of modern mathematics – Lautman broaches the emergence of inventiveness in the very broad spectrum of the development of the mathematical real. Group theory, differential geome- try, algebraic topology, differential equations, functional analysis, functions of complex variables and number fields are some of the domains of his preferred examples. He detects in them methods of construction, structu- ration and unification of modern mathematics that he connects to a precise Platonic interpretation in which powerful pairs of ideas serve to organize the edifice of effective mathematics.