Poincaré’s philosophy: from conventionalism to phenomenology. (English) Zbl 1097.00005

Chicago, IL: Open Court (ISBN 0-8126-9435-X/pbk). viii, 264 p. (2001).
Poincaré was a great scientist and a great philosopher at the same time. Yet his philosophical writings sometimes seems to lack unity. In this outstanding book Elie Zahar gives a rational reconstruction of Poincaré’s philosophical position. Poincaré turns out to be a structural realist with empiricist inclinations whose conventionalism is basically the adherence to a principle of the mathematical coherence of a theory. The book contains thorough discussions of Poincaré’s philosophy of geometry, his relativity programme and his views on the foundations of mathematics. The book is more than a historical study. Zahar also discusses Poincaré’s position in relation with modern debates, for example those concerning Hartry Field’s argument on the dispensability of mathematics.


00A30 Philosophy of mathematics
03A05 Philosophical and critical aspects of logic and foundations
01-02 Research exposition (monographs, survey articles) pertaining to history and biography
03-02 Research exposition (monographs, survey articles) pertaining to mathematical logic and foundations
01A55 History of mathematics in the 19th century
01A60 History of mathematics in the 20th century