Frank Ramsey

Frank Ramsey – Brother of the Archbishop Lord Michael Ramsey and son of A.S Ramsey (Mathematics, Vice-Master Magdelene, Cambs), died in 1930, aged just 26. [Cambs links broken – temporary here, and here.] Get’s a mention in Wittgenstein’s Poker as the “precociously brilliant mathematician” I notice, but I had not recognised his contribution to changing the thinking of Maynard-Keynes and Wittgenstein (post-Tractatus) until I read this. Hugh Mellor’s transcript of his 25 year old BBC radio program about Ramsey. [Quote] The final words of the Tractatus, for example – ‘Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent’ in the original English translation – positively reek of profundity. Whereas Ramsey’s ‘What we can’t say we can’t say, and we can’t whistle it either’ (p. 146) sounds much less impressive, although in fact it sums up a serious objection to the Tractatus, whose approach Ramsey was, incidentally, influential in persuading Wittgenstein to abandon.[Unquote]

On truth [Quote] “It is true that Caesar was murdered” means no more than “Caesar was murdered”. The real question is what it is to believe that Caesar was murdered – as opposed on the one hand to hoping, fearing or having some other attitude to Caesar’s murder, and on the other hand to having a belief about something else. If we can answer those questions we shall thereby also, Ramsey claimed, “have solved the problem of truth”[Unquote] Mentions also that Ramsey knew of C.S.Pierce, and he is compared to Quine – the line to Dennett is apparent ?

On deferred gratification [Quote] as Keynes remarked …. even a non-economist like me can appreciate Ramsey’s use, for the ideal state in which all possible enjoyment can be had now, so that there’s no need to save anything, of the technical term ‘bliss’! It isn’t only in economics that one wishes writers could more often be so apt and witty in their choice of words.[Unquote]

On binary choice [Quote] The adherents of two [opposing] theories could quite well dispute, although neither affirmed anything the other denied. [Unquote].

Quote from the Archbishop about his militant atheist brother [Quote] he was aware of mysticism as a kind of phenomenon worth studying empirically [Unquote]. A mind worth investigating methinks. The parallels in maths / economics / game theory with John Nash (A Beautiful Mind) are striking too.

Spooky photograph of Ramsey atop Red Pike in the English Lakes – a spot on which I’ve stood myself, possibly even been photographed.

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