Analytic Philosophy

Philosophy of Science

Who was Imre Lakatos?

Imre Lakatos’ (1922–1974) main contribution to the philosophy of science was to reconcile the work of Karl Popper (1902–1994) and Thomas Kuhn (1922–1996). He was born Imre Avrum Lipschitz to a Jewish family in Debrecen, Hungary. His mother and grandmother were killed at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Lakatos (which would be written “Lakotos Imre” in Hungarian) studied mathematics, physics, and philosophy at the University of Debrecen, changing his name to Imre Molnár to save himself from the Nazis.

He was a communist during World War II and took the name “Lakatos” as a tribute to the Hungarian general and prime minister Géza Lakatos. He studied at Moscow State University, but then was imprisoned for “revisionism” from 1950 to 1953 for ideas that reinterpreted Marxist doctrine in a way that Marxist authorities considered to be undermining to their official views. He then fled Hungary after the 1956 Soviet invasion. Lakatos earned his doctorate at Cambridge University in 1961 and lectured at the London School of Economics.


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