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About Imre Lakatos


Imre Lakatos in 1961 on the occasion of his Cambridge University doctoral  award ceremony

Imre Lakatos, who died in 1974, aged 51, had been Professor of Logic with special reference to the Philosophy of Mathematics at LSE since 1969. He joined the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method in 1960 on Popper's invitation. Born in Debrecen in eastern Hungary in 1922, he graduated (in Physics, Mathematics and Philosophy) from Debrecen University in 1944. He then joined the underground resistance against the Nazi invasion of Hungary. (His mother, grandmother and uncle perished in Auschwitz.) After the War he was active in the Communist Party and played a highly influential role in the Ministry of Education in Hungary's key period of radical educational reform for universal access to Higher Education on the basis of merit. He also completed a doctoral dissertation| at Debrecen University in 1947 on concept formation in science. But in 1950 he was arrested and spent the next three years as a political prisoner in Recsk labour camp without legal trial.

After his release, shortly after the death of Stalin, he was given a position as librarian and then translator and researcher in the Hungarian Academy of Science by the head of its Institute of Mathematical Research, the internationally renowned mathematician Alfred Renyi. There Lakatos translated English language works in science and mathematics into Hungarian. These included George Polya's renowned work on mathematical heuristics, How to Solve It.

After the suppression of the 1956 Hungarian uprising, Lakatos left Hungary and went immediately to Vienna, and from there to Kings College, Cambridge (on a Rockefeller Fellowship won with the help of Victor Kraft). There Lakatos prepared his 1961 doctoral thesis on the logic of mathematical discovery, out of which grew his famous BJPS articles, collected after his death into the book Proofs and Refutations (CUP, 1976). Two volumes of Lakatos's Philosophical Papers|, edited by John Worrall & Gregory Currie, appeared in 1978, also with CUP.

The British Library of Political and Economic Science at the LSE houses The Lakatos Archive|: his collection of personal papers from 1945 to 1974 and voluminous correspondence with more than a thousand correspondents from 1956 to 1974. Queries concerning the archive should be referred to the Archives Division (|). Further details can be found on the LSE Lakatos Website|.