LAKATOS, Imre, 1922-1974, Professor of Logic, London School of Economics

Scope and Content

Papers and notes by Professor Lakatos on the philosophy of mathematics and science, including notes on Feyerabend, Kuhn and Popper; correspondence with many academics and philosophers; papers relating to the International Colloquium on the Philosophy of Science organised by Lakatos in 1965; and biographical material, desk diaries, press cuttings, and papers relating to student politics and the LSE 'troubles'.

Administrative / Biographical History

Imre Lakatos, 1922-1974, was born in Hungary with the family name of Lipsitz. He attended Debrecen University and graduated in mathematics, physics and philosophy in 1944. During the Nazi occupation of Hungary, he changed his name to Molnar and joined the underground resistance. During the second world war he became a committed communist and after the war changed his name again, this time to Lakatos. In 1947, he was made a secretary in the Ministry of Education and became involved in the reform of higher education in Hungary. In 1948, he wrote a doctoral thesis on concept formation in science, receiving his degree from Budapest University. However his political prominence and 'revisionist' tendencies meant that he fell foul of the campaign against the 'Hungarian Titoists'. He was arrested in 1950 and spent the next three years in jail. He was released in 1953, and in 1954 Alfred Renyi obtained a post for him in the Mathematical Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Science. His job was to translate important mathematical works into Hungarian, including work by George Polya. It was here that he first came into contact with western books and journals, in particular the work of Karl Popper and Friedrich Hayek. After the Hungarian uprising in 1956, Lakatos was informed of the likelihood of his re-arrest and so fled to Vienna. Whilst there he was awarded a three year Rockefeller fellowship and went to Kings College, Cambridge, to study under Richard Braithwaite. In 1958 he met George Polya, who advised him to prepare a case study of the 'Descartes-Euler conjecture' for his doctorate. This later grew into his book Proofs and Refutations . He joined Professor Popper's department at the LSE in 1960 and rose rapidly to become Professor of Logic in 1969. He became increasingly interested in methodology and in 1965 he organised the International Colloquium on the Philosophy of Science. He also edited the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.


This collection is arranged in fourteen sections:
1. Papers published in Hungary, 1946-1956.
2. Early notes on mathematics and the philosophy of mathematics,1945-1964.
3. Essays in the logic of mathematical discovery and the philosophy of mathematics, 1961-1978.
4. Other papers in the philosophy of mathematics, 1956-1976.
5. Early papers in the philosophy of science, 1962-1978.
6. Middle-period papers in the philosophy of science, 1965-1971.
7. Later papers in the philosophy of science, 1969-1976.
8. Papers on general philosophy, 1967-1976.
9. Lectures, 1973-1974.
10. Notes on Feyerabend, Kuhn and Popper, 1960-1970.
11. Miscellaneous (includes biographical material, desk diaries, press cuttings and papers relating to the LSE 'troubles'), 1922-1976.
12. Selected Correspondence (photocopies made prior to the opening of section 13 in its entirety), 1956-1974.
13. Correspondence, 1957-1974.
14. International Colloquium on the Philosophy of Science, 1964-1968.

Access Information


Other Finding Aids

Printed handlist and online catalogue available.

Archivist's Note

Output from CAIRS using template 14 and checked by hand on March 27, 2002

Conditions Governing Use


Geographical Names