Friday, 1 January 2016

Professor Sir Christopher Zeeman FRS has died


Professor Sir Christopher Zeeman FRS

The great mathematician and inspiring teacher Professor Sir Christopher Zeeman FRS died on 13 February 2016 at the age of 91.

Professor Sir Christopher Zeeman FRS
Portrait by Peter Edwards, 2007
Professor Zeeman conducted the marvellous Inner Circle Seminar No. 169, Mathematics and Human Action: Reducing the arbitrariness of the metaphor in the human sciences, on 6 November 2011 at Durrants Hotel, London. He convincingly showed that such qualitative mathematical disciplines as catastrophe theory can illuminate the existential phenomenology of human action (though he did not, and would not have, put it in quite these words). He also exposed, by comparison, what he characterised as gibberish’ – pseudo-science and pseudo-mathematics – in the social sciences and psychotherapy theory. He will surely be mourned by all who were at that seminar, as well as by thousands of his colleagues and students round the world. He said his interests were people and mathematics, in that order, when he supervised me in Cambridge between 1959 and 1961; and all my meetings with him over the next half-century confirmed this. He was a true mathematician but above all a true mensch.

See the Guardian obituary by his colleague Ian Stewart at:


The Daily Telegraph also had a good obituary.

Anthony Stadlen (20 March 2016)

... thinking again of Zeeman’s inspiring seminar, if it wasn’t for characters like him academia would be irredeemable.
Andy Salt, philosophy student (27 February 2012)

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