Imre Lakatos and the Guises of Reason

John Kadvany

The Hungarian émigré Imre Lakatos (1922–1974) earned a worldwide reputation through the influential philosophy of science debates involving Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, and Sir Karl Popper. In Imre Lakatos and the Guises of Reason John Kadvany shows that embedded in Lakatos’s English-language work is a remarkable historical philosophy rooted in his Hungarian past. Below the surface of his life as an Anglo-American philosopher of science and mathematics, Lakatos covertly introduced novel transformations of Hegelian and Marxist ideas about historiography, skepticism, criticism, and rationality.

Lakatos escaped Hungary following the failed 1956 Revolution. Before then, he had been an influential Communist intellectual and was imprisoned for years by the Stalinist regime. He also wrote a lost doctoral thesis in the philosophy of science and participated in what was criminal behavior in all but a legal sense. Kadvany argues that this intellectual and political past animates Lakatos’s English-language philosophy, and that, whether intended or not, Lakatos integrated a penetrating vision of Hegelian ideas with rigorous analysis of mathematical proofs and controversial histories of science.

Including new applications of Lakatos’s ideas to the histories of mathematical logic and economics and providing lucid exegesis of many of Hegel’s basic ideas, Imre Lakatos and the Guises of Reason is an exciting reconstruction of ideas and episodes from the history of philosophy, science, mathematics, and modern political history.

Duke University Press