“THE EXPLANATION OF THE FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS WHICH MATHEMATICS ACCEPTS AS INDEFINABLE”: Rare First Edition of Bertrand Russell's The Principles of Mathematics
The Principles of Mathematics.
Item Number: 36082
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1903.
First edition of this foundational work of mathematics, the first in English on the subject. Octavo, original blue cloth, titles to the spine in gilt. In near fine condition, with light rubbing. From the library of philosopher and historian of mathematics Dietrich Mahnke dated June 1939 on front pastedown, noting that the marginalia are those of the previous owner, Professor Friedrich Kunke. Rare and desirable with noted provenance.
In 1959 Russell wrote My Philosophical Development, in which he recalled the impetus to write the Principles, "It was at the International Congress of Philosophy in Paris in the year 1900 that I became aware of the importance of logical reform for the philosophy of mathematics. ... I was impressed by the fact that, in every discussion, [Peano] showed more precision and more logical rigour than was shown by anybody else. ... It was [Peano's works] that gave the impetus to my own views on the principles of mathematics." This work was supposed to be followed by a second volume that would explain, entirely in symbolic terms, the relationship of logic to mathematics. However, after finding out that his mentor, Alfred Whitehead, planned to published a similar work, Russell approached Whitehead about a collaboration. The result was Principia Mathematica, published between 1910 and 1913.