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An Essay on the Foundations of Geometry.
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RUSSELL, Bertrand.

An Essay on the Foundations of Geometry.

Published: Cambridge: University Press, 1897

Stock code: 112003

Price: £1,250

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First edition, first impression, an excellent association copy of Russell’s first published book of philosophy, with the pencilled ownership inscription of noted Cambridge philosopher R. B. Braithwaite, dated 1923, to the front free endpaper. Braithwaite (1900-1990), then a scholar at King’s College, originally studied mathematics before switching to the moral sciences tripos for his final year, the year of the inscription. He was subsequently elected to a fellowship at the college, which he retained through a long career in which he founded the faculty of the history and philosophy of science with Herbert Butterfield, and worked “in the Cambridge tradition of scientifically informed philosophy exemplified by Bertrand Russell, J. M. Keynes, Frank Ramsey, and C. D. Broad” (ODNB). Based on Russell’s Trinity College fellowship dissertation, An Essay on the Foundations of Geometry “provides a partial defence of Kant’s theory that the truth of geometry is a necessary condition of all possible experience … Russell later dismissed the book as a foolish and immature work, and its central claims have not been accepted by either mathematicians or philosophers. None the less, principally through being reviewed at length and with great respect by the eminent French mathematician Henri Poincaré, it served to establish Russell’s professional reputation and led to his being invited to deliver a paper at the prestigious International Congress of Philosophy held in Paris in 1900, an event that profoundly affected his career” (idem).

Octavo. Original blue cloth, neatly rebacked with the original gilt-lettered spine laid down, boards ruled in blind, all edges untrimmed. Mild cockling to front board, tips lightly rubbed and bumped, page-edges tanned, contents toned, inner hinges reinforced. A very good copy.

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