Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers

ISBN : 9780198755357

Cheryl Misak
544 ページ
156 x 234 mm
  • The first full biography of one of the great thinkers of the twentieth century
  • Captures and reflects upon all aspects of his short life and extensive work
  • Presents an insightful and accessible explanation of his achievements in philosophy, mathematics, and economics
  • Reveals his intense personal relationships with Wittgenstein, Russell, Keynes, Moore, and other notable figures from Cambridge and the Bloomsbury Group
  • Draws on rich and surprising new material from archives and interviews
  • Written by a leading historian of philosophy

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When he died in 1930 aged 26, Frank Ramsey had already invented one branch of mathematics and two branches of economics, laying the foundations for decision theory and game theory. Keynes deferred to him; he was the only philosopher whom Wittgenstein treated as an equal. Had he lived he might have been recognized as the most brilliant thinker of the century. This amiable shambling bear of a man was an ardent socialist, a believer in free love, and an intimate of the Bloomsbury set. For the first time Cheryl Misak tells the full story of his extraordinary life.


Foreword: 'Mind and Heart'

Part I: Boyhood
1: The Ramseys
2: Winchester Nearly Unmade Him
3: 'We really live in a great time for thinking'

Part II: The Cambridge Man
4: Undergraduate Life
5: 'To my generation, he was rather frightening'
6: Ramsey and the Early Wittgenstein
7: Vienna Interlude
8: 'The fundamentals are so philosophical'
9: The New Don
10: Passion Found

Part III: An Astonishing Half Decade
11: Settling Down in Work and Life
12: Revolution in Philosophy
13: Two Crises
14: Cambridge Economics
15: Ramseyan Economics: The Feasible First Best
16: 1928 Return to Mathematics
17: Wittgenstein Comes Home
18: 'The problem of philosophy must be divided if I am to solve it'
19: The End and Meaning of a Life


Cheryl Misak?is University Professor and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. She works on American pragmatism, the history of analytic philosophy, ethics and political philosophy, and the philosophy of medicine. Her most recent books include?Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers?(forthcoming 2020),?Cambridge Pragmatism: From Peirce and James to Ramsey and Wittgenstein,?The American Pragmatists,?Truth and the End of Inquiry: A Peircean Account of Truth,?Truth, Politics, Morality: Pragmatism and Deliberation. She has had visiting fellowships or positions at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, the Free University in Berlin, Trinity College Cambridge, St. Johns College Cambridge, and New York University. In 2013, she completed a long run in academic administration at the University of Toronto, culminating as Vice-President and Provost.

"This is a gripping read about the twentieth century's forgotten genius. It provides a fascinating and meticulously detailed portrait of Frank Ramsey's life and times. Finally, Ramsey has the biography he deserves." -?David Edmonds, co-author of?Wittgenstein's Poker
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"In this brilliantly written biography of Frank Ramsey, the philosophical and mathematical genius, Cheryl Misak helps us to understand how this innovative thinker could transform so much of the intellectual world of the twentieth century in a short life that ended before he turned 27. The story of Ramsey - his life, his ideas and his engaging arguments with others - as told by Misak is both deeply insightful and much fun to read." -?Amartya Sen, Harvard University