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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index B > Léon Brunschvicg Quotes

Léon Brunschvicg
(10 Nov 1869 - 18 Jan 1944)

French philosopher who was a philosopher of mathematics. He believed that mathematical reasoning is the highest level of thought.

Science Quotes by Léon Brunschvicg (2 quotes)

The consideration of mathematics is at the base of knowledge of the mind as it is at the base of the natural sciences, and for the same reason: the free and fertile work of thought dates from that epoch when mathematics brought to man the true norm of truth.
— Léon Brunschvicg
As translated in James Byrnie Shaw, Lectures on the Philosophy of Mathematics (1918), 193. From Léon Brunschvicg, Les Étapes de La Philosophie Mathématique (1912), 577, “La considération de la mathématique est à la base de la connaissance de l’esprit comme elle est à la base des sciences de la nature, et pour une même raison: l’œuvre libre et féconde de la pensée date de l’époque où la mathématique vint apporter à l’homme la norme véritable de la vérité.”
Science quotes on:  |  Base (71)  |  Consideration (85)  |  Epoch (21)  |  Fertile (16)  |  Free (92)  |  Knowledge (1306)  |  Mathematics (1205)  |  Mind (760)  |  Natural Science (90)  |  Norm (5)  |  Reason (471)  |  Thought (546)  |  Truth (928)  |  Work (635)

The mathematical intellectualism is henceforth a positive doctrine, but one that inverts the usual doctrines of positivism: in place of originating progress in order, dynamics in statics, its goal is to make logical order the product of intellectual progress. The science of the future is not enwombed, as Comte would have had it, as Kant had wished it, in the forms of the science already existing; the structure of these forms reveals an original dynamism whose onward sweep is prolonged by the synthetic generation of more and more complicated forms. No speculation on number considered as a category a priori enables one to account for the questions set by modern mathematics … space affirms only the possibility of applying to a multiplicity of any elements whatever, relations whose type the intellect does not undertake to determine in advance, but, on the contrary, it asserts their existence and nourishes their unlimited development.
— Léon Brunschvicg
As translated in James Byrnie Shaw, Lectures on the Philosophy of Mathematics (1918), 193. From Léon Brunschvicg, Les Étapes de La Philosophie Mathématique (1912), 567-568, “L’intellectualisme mathématique est désormais une doctrine positive, mais qui intervertira les formules habituelles du positivisme: au lieu de faire sortir le progrès de l’ordre, ou le dynamique du statique, il tend à faire de l'ordre logique le produit du progrès intellectuel. La science à venir n'est pas enfermée, comme l’aurait voulu Comte, comme le voulait déjà Kant, dans les formes de la science déjà faite; la constitution de ces formes révèle un dynamisme originel dont l’élan se prolonge par la génération synthétique de notions de plus en plus compliquées. Aucune spéculation sur le nombre, considéré comme catégorie a priori, ne permet de rendre compte des questions qui se sont posées pour la mathématique moderne … … l’espace ne fait qu'affirmer la possibilité d'appliquer sur une multiplicité d’éléments quelconques des relations dont l’intelligence ne cherche pas à déterminer d’avance le type, dont elle constate, au contraire, dont elle suscite le développement illimité.”
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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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