Imre Lakatos (November 9, 1922-February 2, 1974)

Timeline created by Sumiyyah Azuriah
  • Birth

    Imre Lakatos was born into a Jewish family on November 9, 1922, in Debrecen, Hungary. He was born with the name Imre Lipschitz but later changed his name to avoid Nazi discrimination.
  • Education

    Imre received his education from the University of Debrecen. He majored in mathematics, physics, and philosophy, and completed his degree in 1944. In his last years of school, World War II broke out; and soon after he graduated, Imre changed his name from Lipschitz to Molnar--this aided his survival. After the war ended, he changed his name to Lakatos so he could continue wearing his "I.L." engraved shirts.
  • Prison

    Lakatos served three years in prison, upon his arrest in 1950 on charges of revisionism. In 1953, when he was released, Lakatos took up mathematical research. He begun translating mathematics books into Hungarian; it was at this time that he discovered "How to Solve It," by George Polya, which later inspired his work.
  • Education pt. II

    In 1948, Lakatos received his PhD from Debrecen. Years later, he found himself at Cambridge University, where he was inspired by Karl Popper and George Polya--here he wrote his doctoral thesis "Essays in the Logic of Mathematical Discovery," submitted in 1961. Later, his thesis was published in four parts as 'Proofs and Refutations' in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, in 1963-64. Lakatos refused to publish his work as a book, as he was still improving his work.
  • "Proofs and Refutations"

    In Lakatos' work "Proofs and Refutations," he writes a dialogue "between fictional students and teacher, as they discover and prove(and disprove) Euler's V-E+F=2 formula." He hoped to achieve the goal of arguing that mathematics is a "dynamic process" and that discoveries and proofs are not final. He wanted us to understand that we should not think that a theory is undeniably true, only that a counterexample has yet to be found.
  • Research Programme

    Lakatos, an admirer of both Kuhn and Popper, attempted to connect the gap between Popper's falsificationism and Kuhn's paradigm shifts. Lakatos developed a theory of "research programmes" that exist within science. A research programme is a sequence of theories in a field of science--similar to a paradigm; when a theory changes, he calls this a "problem shift." They also have a "hard core" that is stagnant and does not change even when there is a problem shift.
  • Research Programme Cont.

    In a research programme, to create predictions from the hard core, an auxiliary hypothesis is required. These hypotheses form the 'protective belt' of the research programme. Scientists attempt to "preserve the hard core by altering the protective belt." (Baker, 2017)The hard core is preserved through falsification of the protective belt if necessary.
  • Kuhn vs. Lakatos

    A significant difference between Lakatos' and Kuhn's theories, is scientific method versus the feedback from the scientific community. Kuhn did not believe in a scientific method or a single set of rules that all scientists follow. Lakatos believed that not everything should rely on the judgment of the scientific community, that there has to be a level of reason and some type of method at the heart of science. In this notion, Lakatos was similar to Popper.
  • Science & Pseudoscience

    One of the last philosophies that Lakatos took on was the topic of science vs pseudoscience. Included below is a lecture done in 1973 by Lakatos.
  • Lakatos' Philosophy
    This lecture provides an excellent description of Lakatos' theory of research programs, and how he was inspired by Kuhn and Popper.
  • Death

    Imre Lakatos died of a heart attack on February 2, 1974, in London. After his death, Paul Feyerabend wrote an article about Lakatos, where he stated Lakatos was "above all a kind and warmhearted human being, deeply concerned about the increasing irrationality and injustice in this world."