The first decennium of the twentieth century is the setting of the transition of the young Brouwer from withdrawn student to exuberant, promising scientist. The bulk of the correspondence consists of the exchange between Brouwer and his friend and fellow student Adama van Scheltema (Scheltema, for short) and Brouwer and his Ph.D adviser Korteweg. The correspondence with Scheltema, who was to become the leading socialist poet of his day, permits an unreserved insight into the ideas and ideals of the young man in his formative years. The initial relation novice–mentor between Brouwer and Scheltema is noticeable shifting towards the end of the decennium. The Brouwer–Scheltema correspondence is of great interest because it shed light on Brouwer’s emotional and cultural make-up. The correspondence with Korteweg is of similar importance, in particular where it concerns the emergence of Brouwer’s ideas on the nature of mathematics. It highlights Brouwer’s progress from successful student to original thinker. Moreover, the letters help us to see Brouwer’s revolutionary dissertation in the right perspective. Towards the end of the period Brouwer, supported by his newly gained insights in topology, ventures out into the world of the great men of the time – Hadamard, Hilbert and Schoenflies.


Logical Reasoning Ring Domain Vector Distribution Logical Language Rigid Group 
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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk van Dalen
    • 1
  1. 1.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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