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Moore, G.E. (1873 – 1958)

English philosopher, one of the initiators of analytic philosophy. A scarce signed document, ‘G. E. Moore, Professor of Philosophy‘, one page, Cambridge, 13th May 1935. The typescript document (with two holograph additions) is a letter of testimonial for Miss Alice Ambrose, whom Moore had supervised on a weekly basis for more than two years during term times, and who had attended Moore´s lectures and discussion classes. The document states, in part, ‘She is an industrious and intelligent student, of a very steady and reliable character; and it is a pleasure to have her for a pupil. The subject upon which she is engaged in research, viz. the question as to what there is of value in the views of the so-called “Finitist” school in the philosophy of mathematics, is a subject of great importance but also of very great difficulty. Miss Ambrose is well aware of the difficulties and is making a resolute and persevering effort to attain real clearness as to the fundamental issues involved in the controversy. She seems to me to be thoroughly deserving of any award which can be made to her to enable her to carry on her work’. A little frayed and with some small tears to the upper edge, and a couple of small, very minor tears to other edges, otherwise in fine condition.

Alice Ambrose (1906-2001) American philosopher, logician and author. Ambrose studied at Newnham College, Cambridge University, under G. E. Moore and Ludwig Wittgenstein, becoming a close disciple of the latter and earning a second PhD in 1938. Ambrose secretly made notes during Wittgenstein´s lectures, which he did not allow, and which were later published. Ambose would also later write of her association with Wittgenstein in Ludwig Wittgenstein: Philosophy and Language (1972).

In 1935, the same year as the present document, Wittgenstein abruptly terminated his association with Ambrose when the student decided, following the encouragement of G. E. Moore, to publish an article entitled Finitism in Mathematics in the philosophical journey Mind, which was intended to give an account of Wittgenstein´s position on the subject.