Foundations of Mathematics and Mathematical Practice. The Case of Polish Mathematical School

The foundations of mathematics cover mathematical as well as philosophical problems. At the turn of the 20th century logicism, formalism and intuitionism, main foundational schools were developed. A natural problem arose, namely of how much the foundations of mathematics influence the real practice of mathematicians. Although mathematics was and still is declared to be independent of philosophy, various foundational controversies concerned some mathematical axioms, e.g. the axiom of choice, or methods of proof (particularly, non-constructive ones) and sometimes qualified them as admissible (or not) in mathematical practice, relatively to their philosophical (and foundational) content. Polish Mathematical School was established in the years 1915–1920. Its research program was outlined by Zygmunt Janiszewski (the Janiszewski program) and suggested that Polish mathematicians should concentrate on special branches of studies, including set theory, topology and mathematical logic. In this way, the foundations of mathematics became a legitimate part of mathematics. In particular, the foundational investigations should be conducted independently of philosophical assumptions and apply all mathematically accepted methods, finitary or not, and the same concerns other branches of mathematics. This scientific ideology contributed essentially to the remarkable development of logic, set theory and topology in Poland.

see the article on the SHS website