Philosophy of Mathematics Seminar


Philosophy of Mathematics seminar


Andrea Reichenberger, Paderborn

Rózsa Péter on the philosophy and foundations of mathematics


Rózsa Péter’s book Playing with Infinity, first published in 1944, serves undoubtedly an educational aim: to explain mathematics for people who confess themselves unskilled in the subject. However, the book also offers insights into Péter’s highly original and little known philosophy of mathematics. For Péter, the task of the foundations and philosophy of mathematics is a “self-critique of pure reason.” Critique in this context doesn’t mean destruction, but it aims at the exposition and delimitation of possibilities: what can be reached by mathematical reasoning and what can’t be done. Mathematics, understood as human activity, is “not something static, closed, but living and developing,” to use Rósa Péter’s own words. In my talk I will contextualize Péter’s position against the historical background of Hilbert’s program, the decision problem and the unpublished correspondence with Paul Bernays.