Frank Ramsey 101: Explore the Renowned British Mathematician
Zatrun Published at April 04, 2023

Frank Ramsey 101: Who is the British Economist? in our article of, we will cover in detail everything you need to know about Frank Ramsey, the English philosopher, mathematician and economist, who our readers are curious about.

Who is Frank Ramsey?

Frank Ramsey was born on February 22, 1903 in Cambridge, the son of Arthur Stanley Ramsey, president of Magdalene College and mathematician, and Mary Agnes Stanley. He was the eldest of four siblings and the only one to remain a Christian, along with his younger brother Michael, and became the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Ramsey attended Winchester College in 1915, before returning to Cambridge to read mathematics at Trinity College. There he became a disciple of John Maynard Keynes and an active member of the Apostles. he graduated with a first-class degree in mathematics in 1923 and obtained the privilege of Senior Wrangler.

Besides his mathematical and scientific studies, Ramsey had many other interests, and even in his youth he displayed a deep talent and a wide range of interests. However, in early 1924 Ramsey’s depressed mood worsened, and he went to Vienna for psychoanalysis.

Like many of his contemporaries, including his Viennese flatmate and Apostle Lionel Penrose (who also did analysis with Siegfried Bernfeld), Ramsey was intellectually interested in psychoanalysis. His analyst was Freud’s student Theodor Reik. As one of the reasons for starting therapy, he claimed in a letter to his mother that unconscious impulses can even affect the work of a mathematician.

While in Vienna, he visited Puchberg to see Wittgenstein. He became friends with the Wittgenstein family and visited AS Neill. His experimental school in Sonntagsberg, four hours from Vienna. In the summer of 1924, he continued his analysis by joining Reik in Dobbiaco (South Tyrol), where his analyst friend Lewis Namier was also present.

Ramsey’s Ideas and Works

Ramsey returned to England in October 1924 and became a fellow of King’s College with the support of John Maynard Keynes. At Cambridge, he joined a Psychoanalysis Group consisting of other members such as Arthur Tansley, Lionel Penrose, Harold Jeffreys, John Rickman and James Strachey and completed a membership qualification in psychoanalysis.

In September 1925, Ramsey married Lettice Baker, and this was the first wedding held in the Department of Population. His wife described him as a “militant atheist”. They had two daughters together. After Ramsey’s death, Lettice Ramsey opened a photography studio with Helen Muspratt in Cambridge.

Despite being an atheist, when his brother decided to become a priest in the Church of England, Ramsey was quite tolerant. Frank Ramsey became a lecturer in mathematics at a university in 1926. Later, he became the Director of Mathematical Studies at King’s College. Ramsey’s name appears in three of his works, in the manifesto of the Vienna Circle (1929).

His Death

Ramsey, who suffered from chronic liver problems, suffered from jaundice after undergoing abdominal surgery and died at Guy’s Hospital in London on January 19, 1930 at the age of 26. There is a suspicion that Ramsey, an avid swimmer, may have contracted an undiagnosed leptospirosis while swimming at Cam.

He was buried at the Ascension Burial Ground Parish in Cambridge, where his parents are also buried. Ramsey’s notes and manuscripts were acquired by Nicholas Rescher for the University of Pittsburgh Archives of Scientific Philosophy. This collection contains only a few letters. But it contains many unpublished articles and drafts of book chapters. At the same time, his diary, letters from his widowed wife Lettice and his father, and other articles containing memoirs, are kept in the Modern Archives of King’s College, Cambridge.

His Legacy

  • Frank Ramsey’s Legacy: Every year, the Decision Analysis Society recognizes the important contributions made to decision theory and its application to important classes of real-world decision problems by Frank P. Ramsey. Ramsey gives out a Medal.
  • Professorships: Howard Raiffa became the first Ramsey Professor at Harvard University. Richard Zeckhauser as Frank P at Harvard University in 1971. Ramsey was appointed Professor of Political Economy. Partha Dasgupta was appointed the Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics in 1994 and later became the Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics at the University of Cambridge in 2010.

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