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WEYL REEXAMINED: “DAS KONTINUUM” 100 YEARS LATER

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2020

ARNON AVRON
Affiliation:
SCHOOL OF COMPUTER SCIENCE TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY TEL AVIV 6997801, ISRAEL E-mail: aa@cs.tau.ac.il
Corresponding
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Abstract

Hermann Weyl was one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century, with contributions to many branches of mathematics and physics. In 1918, he wrote a famous book, “Das Kontinuum”, on the foundations of mathematics. In that book, he described mathematical analysis as a ‘house built on sand’, and tried to ‘replace this shifting foundation with pillars of enduring strength’.

In this paper, we reexamine and explain the philosophical and mathematical ideas that underly Weyl’s system in “Das Kontinuum”, and show that they are still useful and relevant. We propose a precise formalization of that system, which is the first to be completely faithful to what is written in the book. Finally, we suggest that a certain set-theoretical modern system reflects better Weyl’s ideas than previous attempts (most notably by Feferman) of achieving this goal.

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© The Association for Symbolic Logic 2020

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