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Frank Ramsey


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Table of Contents

Foreword: 'Mind and Heart' Part I: Boyhood 1: The Ramseys 2: Winchester Nearly Unmade Him 3: 'We really live in a great time for thinking' Part II: The Cambridge Man 4: Undergraduate Life 5: 'To my generation, he was rather frightening' 6: Ramsey and the Early Wittgenstein 7: Vienna Interlude 8: 'The fundamentals are so philosophical' 9: The New Don 10: Passion Found Part III: An Astonishing Half Decade 11: Settling Down in Work and Life 12: Revolution in Philosophy 13: Two Crises 14: Cambridge Economics 15: Ramseyan Economics: The Feasible First Best 16: 1928 Return to Mathematics 17: Wittgenstein Comes Home 18: 'The problem of philosophy must be divided if I am to solve it' 19: The End and Meaning of a Life

About the Author

Cheryl Misak is University Professor and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. She works on American pragmatism, the history of analytic philosophy, ethics and political philosophy, and the philosophy of medicine. Her most recent books include Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers (forthcoming 2020), Cambridge Pragmatism: From Peirce and James to Ramsey and Wittgenstein, The American Pragmatists, Truth and the End of Inquiry: A Peircean Account of Truth, Truth, Politics, Morality: Pragmatism and Deliberation. She has had visiting fellowships or positions at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, the Free University in Berlin, Trinity College Cambridge, St. Johns College Cambridge, and New York University. In 2013, she completed a long run in academic administration at the University of Toronto, culminating as Vice-President and Provost.


Frank Ramsey [...] makes noble reading. Ms Misak is a born teacher who explains tricky intellectual abstractions with a clarity that is exceptional. More than that, she writes with love. Her tenderness toward Ramsey, his parents and siblings, his wife and friends gives spirit and delicacy to the whole. There is astounding emotional intelligence in every chapter. One feels on each page Ms. Misak's fine mind concentrating hard on doing the best she can. This is an enthralling and glorious book. * Richard Davenport-Hines, The Wall Street Journal *
Philosophers sometimes play the game of imagining how twentieth-century thought might have been different if Ramsey had survived and his ideas had caught on earlier. That exercise has become more entertaining with the publication of the first full biography ... Misak tells a more colorful story than one might have thought possible so long after such a short life ended. * Anthony Gottleib, The New Yorker *
In her important new work, Cheryl Misak [...] finally gives Ramsey the consideration he deserves ... it is an impressive work. She has a devotion to the archive and her book is thoroughly researched and well put together ... We should feel lucky that we have the work we do, and that Misak has done such a good job of drawing our attention to one of the most important and intriguing figures in 20th-century philosophy. * Alex Dean, Prospect *
A monument to good scholarship while still conveying the human being at the centre ... A landmark book if you dwell among the modernists. * Richard Lofthouse, QUOD *
This is a gripping read about the twentieth century's forgotten genius. It provides a fascinating and meticulously detailed portrait of Frank Ramsey's life and times. Finally, Ramsey has the biography he deserves. * David Edmonds, co-author of Wittgenstein's Poker *
In this brilliantly written biography of Frank Ramsey, the philosophical and mathematical genius, Cheryl Misak helps us to understand how this innovative thinker could transform so much of the intellectual world of the twentieth century in a short life that ended before he turned 27. The story of Ramsey - his life, his ideas and his engaging arguments with others - as told by Misak is both deeply insightful and much fun to read. * Amartya Sen, Harvard University *

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