Summary Information
Title: Frank Plumpton Ramsey Papers
Collection Number: ASP.1983.01
Creator: Ramsey, Frank Plumpton, 1903-1930

Collection Dates: 1920-1930
Extent: 3.75 linear feet (8 manuscript boxes)

Language: English

This is a collection of autograph manuscripts documenting the philosophical work of Frank Plumpton Ramsey between the years 1920 and 1930. F.P. Ramsey was one of the most important British analytic philosophers of the twentieth century. During his career he worked in the areas of philosophy of mathematics, symbolic logic, epistemology, economics, and probability theory. The collection contains drafts of Ramsey's papers, including drafts of two of the most important and influential of Ramsey's works, The Foundations of Mathematics and On a Problem of Formal Logic. There are notes on the Tractatus of L. Wittgenstein. There are also papers, notes, and drafts of works on topics in philosophy of mathematics, formal logic, economics, and political theory. Some of Ramsey's undergraduate essays are also found in the collection. Digital reproductions of this collection are available online.

ULS Special Collections Department
University of Pittsburgh Library System
Hillman Library, Room 363
3960 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Date Published:


Finding aid prepared by curators and staff of the Archives of Scientific Philosophy, Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh. Revisions occurred to the finding aid as a part of the encoding process on December 10, 2004 and January 10, 2006.
Revision Description:
August 2011:
Added links within finding aid to access content selected for digitization.


Frank Plumpton Ramsey was born in 1903 in Cambridge, England, and died in 1930 in London, England. Ramsey was one of England's foremost philosophers in the Anglo-American analytic tradition. He was educated first at Winchester, one of England's leading public schools, then at Trinity College of Cambridge University. At Trinity he was a protégé of John Maynard Keynes, and a member of the important Cambridge discussion group, the Apostles. Ramsey received a bachelor's degree in Mathematics with first class honors from Cambridge in 1923. He was a mathematician, philosopher, and economist who was associated with Cambridge University in England throughout his entire professional career. He was interested in and contributed significantly to philosophical problems in epistemology, probability, symbolic logic, the foundations of mathematics, and economics. He was a colleague of Bertrand Russell, John Maynard Keynes and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Despite his short life and short professional career he is one of the leading British philosophers of the twentieth century.

Collection Scope and Content Notes

This is a collection of autograph manuscripts, notes, and drafts of Ramsey's work in mathematics, philosophy, and economics. It contains drafts of several undergraduate papers and the manuscript of several chapters of an unpublished book on the relationship of logic and epistemology. Early versions of two of Ramsey's most significant papers - Universals, 1925, and The Foundations of Mathematics, 1925 are found within the collection. There are papers giving Ramsey's outline of the Tractatus of Wittgenstein, and notes on the concept of infinity that are in Ramsey's hand but which may have been dictated to him by Wittgenstein. Relatively few of the documents are dated. Class notes and papers given to the Apostles are also included in the collection.

Ramsey's manner of organizing his material is not known nor are dates included for most of the documents, however, the material begins with his arrival at Cambridge and runs until his death, hence it all falls between 1920 and 1930. The papers have been kept in the order in which they were received. This guide attempts to provide information on the material based on this organization, due to the number of scholarly publications that have previously been published using this order.

The materials are arranged into seven series organized by topic or subject of philosophical concern. Because of the overlap within series the researcher should be sure to consult the entirety of the collection to ensure that they view all relevant documents. Additional scope and content notes are provided at the series levels.

All materials in the collection have been digitized.


Series I. The nature of truth - manuscript notes

Series II. General notes on philosophy and philosophy of science

Series III. Notes on various topics including Mathematics and Psychology

Series IV. Outlines, notes, and drafts of articles

Series V. Notes and materials on Mathematics and Mathematical Logic

Series VI. Materials from Ramsey's undergraduate work

Series VII. Undergraduate notebooks and commentaries on Wittgenstein

Subject Terms

  • Causality (Physics)
  • Economics
  • Knowledge, Theory of
  • Logic, Symbolic and mathematical
  • Mathematics
  • Science -- Philosophy
  • Truth

Corporate Names
  • Cambridge Apostles (Society).

Personal Names
  • Keynes, John Maynard, 1883-1946
  • Moore, G. E. (George Edward), 1873-1958
  • Russell, Bertrand, 1872-1970
  • Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 1889-1951

  • Philosophy

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information:

The collection was acquired in 1983 from a London dealer in rare books and manuscripts, Bernard Quaritch, Ltd.

Acquisition Information:

A copy of a speech given by Ramsey to the Apostles was donated by Professor Nicholas Rescher in November 2004. The original is held by the King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge.

Alternate Format:

Digital reproductions of this collection are available online.

Preferred Citation:

Frank Plumpton Ramsey Papers, 1920-1930, ASP.1983.01, Archives of Scientific Philosophy, Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by curators and staff of the Archives of Scientific Philosophy, Special Collections, in 1984. The guide to this collection was written by Lance Lugar, Curator of the Archives of Scientific Philosophy, in 2004.

Processing Information:

Revision and rearrangement for the encoded version of the finding aid provided by Dan Horvath on December 10, 2004 and Charles Stanford on January 10, 2006. Information about the collection title and the controlled access terms was extracted from the MARC record in the University of Pittsburgh catalog Voyager ID number: 4533236


Any requests for permission to publish, quote, or reproduce materials from this collection must be submitted in writing to the Assistant University Librarian for Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the University of Pittsburgh as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Collection Inventory

Series I. The Nature of the Truth

Scope and Content Notes:

Series I contains notes on chapters I-V of F. Ramsey's manuscript on the nature of truth. All of these notes are handwritten and may show signs of revision or reformulation. While the series is focused on the topic of the nature of truth and its components were intended to be part of a book, the researcher should be aware that other series will contain additional notes explicating Ramsey's thoughts on the nature of truth.

Box 1
Folder 1-2 Chapter I - The Nature of Truth
Folder 3 Mental States and Acts, Notes
Folder 4-5 Theories of Truth
Folder 6 Absolute Truth
Folder 7-9 Coherence Theory of Truth (Chapter II)
Folder 10 Notes on Truth
Folder 11 Chapter III Judgment
Folder 12 Chapter IV Knowledge and Opinion
Folder 13-14 Chapter V Judgment and Time
Folder 15 Truth and Science, Notes on Truth
Folder 16 Notes on Truth, Logic, and Probability
Folder 17 Chapter I - Logical Values
Folder 18 Chapter I - Introductory

Series II. Notes on Philosophy and Philosophy of Science

Scope and Content Notes:

Series II consists of general notes by F. Ramsey on topics such as logical philosophy, philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, and individual philosophers such as G.E. Moore, I. Kant, L. Wittgenstein. The notes are arranged thematically by notebook or folder. These notes are on loose sheets of paper and as with his other notes may show the imprint of his developing thought by containing passages that have been lined out and replaced by later formulations. The folders containing miscellaneous notes hold material that is often fragmentary or short. The topics covered are often to be found as principal topics in other folders, so researchers may wish to consult these folders for Ramsey's development of his ideas. The notes in the miscellaneous folders are often Ramsey's jottings on reading that he was doing, as indicated by his citation of specific works.

Box 2
Folder 1 Solipsism and Language
Folder 2-3 G.E. Moore
Folder 4 Notes
Folder 5 Facts
Folder 6 H.W.B. Joseph
Folder 7 Sense Data, Time
Folder 8 Notes
Folder 9 Mathematics
Folder 10-11 Miscellaneous Notes
Folder 12 Kant
Folder 13-14 Miscellaneous Notes
Folder 15 Experience
Folder 16 Logic
Folder 17 Existential Judgment
Folder 18 Abstraction
Folder 19 Letter to Behmann
Folder 20 Logic
Folder 21 Logic and Language
Folder 22 Logic and Truth
Folder 23 Truth, Judgment, and Knowledge
Folder 24 Sensation
Folder 25 Miscellaneous notes
Folder 26 Philosophy, Logic, and Mathematics
Folder 27 Logic
Folder 28 Notes
Folder 29 Wittgenstein
Folder 30 Causality and Probability
Folder 31 Notes
Folder 32 Meaning, Acquaintance
Folder 33 Meaning and Experience
Folder 34 Meaning
Folder 35 Self-Reference

Series III. Notes on Various Topics

Scope and Content Notes:

Series III contains notes by F. Ramsey on philosophical topics, psychological topics, specific philosophers (notably Kant, Hobbes, and Schopenhauer), and on mathematical and statistical topics. The miscellaneous notes here - as in Series II - are short exposition of Ramsey's ideas, notes about texts that he was reading, and insights on topics that he was considering. The subjects covered in the wider array of notes are not restricted to the topics prominent in this series.

Box 3
Folder 1 Psychoanalysis
Folder 2 De Rochefoucauld, Hobbes, and La Bruyere
Folder 3 Logic, etc.
Folder 4 Miscellaneous Notes
Folder 5 M.F. Washburn
Folder 6 K.O. Erdmann
Folder 7 Shaw's Back to Methuselah
Folder 8 Helmholtz
Folder 9 Judgment
Folder 10 Hume's Treatise
Folder 11 Eddington
Folder 12 W.E. Johnson
Folder 13 Probability, Modality
Folder 14 Aristotle, Plato
Folder 15-16 Probability
Folder 17 Schopenhauer on Kant
Folder 18 Pritchard on Kant
Folder 19 Whately
Folder 20 Schopenhauer
Folder 21 Philosophy, Mathematics
Folder 22 Kant
Folder 23 Bradley and Bosanquet
Folder 24 Bradley
Folder 25 Bosanquet
Folder 26 Metapsychology
Folder 27 Logic
Folder 28 Carnap
Folder 29 Realism
Folder 30-31 Miscellaneous Notes (cont.)
Folder 32 Realism
Folder 33 Epistemology
Folder 34 Vagueness, Sensation
Folder 35 Logic
Folder 36 Definition
Folder 37 Causality, Psychology, Acquaintance
Folder 38 Russell

Series IV. Outlines, Notes, and Drafts of Articles

Scope and Content Notes:

Series IV contains F. Ramsey's outlines, notes, and drafts of articles. The subject of these works are often mathematical and logical topics, as well as notes on the work of the mathematician John Von Neuman and the philosophers G.E. Moore and Bertrand Russell. Please note that Series V. also contains material on mathematical and logical topics.

Box 4
Folder 1 Self-Reference
Folder 2 Eddington and Weyl
Folder 3 Outline on Logic
Folder 4 The Infinite
Folder 5 The Rule of Succession
Folder 6 The Ideas of Mathematics
Folder 7 The Number of Things in the World
Folder 8 Theory of Types
Folder 9 Philosophy and Language
Folder 10 G.E. Moore and Notes on Credit, Power, and Democracy
Folder 11 Russell
Folder 12 Paradoxes, Mathematics
Folder 13 Theory of Types
Folder 14 Philosophy and Language
Folder 15 Von Neumann
Folder 16 Realism
Folder 17 Logic and Mathematics
Folder 18 Formalism
Folder 19 Set Theory
Folder 20 Lowenheim-Skolem Theorem
Folder 21 Language, Experience
Folder 22 Miscellaneous Notes
Folder 23 Time and Mathematics (in German)

Series V. Notes and Materials on Mathematics and Mathematical Logic

Scope and Content Notes:

Series V contains F. Ramsey's notes and manuscripts on various aspects of logic and mathematical logic. Materials in this series comprise Ramsey's work on technical matters of logic and mathematics as well as his thoughts on prominent philosophers and mathematicians whose work made significant contributions to these topics. Researchers interested in Ramsey's work on mathematical logic and logic should be sure to consult the additional materials in Series IV.

Box 5
Folder 1-2 Logic
Folder 3-4 Theory of Types
Folder 5-6 Axiom of Reducibility
Folder 7 Theory of Types and Mathematics
Folder 8 Theory of Types
Folder 9 Second Order Functions
Folder 10 General Propositions
Folder 11 Logic
Folder 12 First Order Logic
Folder 13 Logic
Folder 14 Self-Reference
Folder 15 Propositions
Folder 16 Logic
Folder 17 Scientific Theories
Folder 18 Solipsism and Personal Identity
Folder 19 Meaning of Hypothetical Propositions
Folder 20 Probability, Mathematics (also preservation copies)
Folder 21 Sensation
Folder 22-25 W.E. Johnson, Logic
Folder 26 Hilbert (German)
Folder 27 Bernays (German)
Folder 28 Bernstein (German)
Folder 29 Hilbert (German)
Folder 30 Peirce, Chance, Love, and Logic

Series VI. Undergraduate Materials

Scope and Content Notes:

Series VI contains drafts of manuscripts, lecture notes, papers from F. Ramsey's undergraduate career and drafts of his works on economics. This series holds his early papers given to the Moral Science Club, a Cambridge reading and discussion group. Other papers in this series concern the rule of succession, the foundations of mathematics, philosophy of mathematics, and commentary on Russell and Whitehead's Principia Mathematica.

Box 6
Folder 1 Foundations of Mathematics
Folder 2 Philosophy
Folder 3 Draft of On a Problem in Formal Logic
Folder 4 Lectures on Foundations of Mathematics
Folder 5 Early Moral Science Club Papers
Folder 6 Intuitionist Mathematics
Folder 7 Ramsey Economics

Series VII. Undergraduate Notebooks and Commentaries

Scope and Content Notes:

Series VII contains F. Ramsey's early undergraduate notebooks and essays, unpublished papers for the Cambridge Discussion Society, drafts of important later essays, and material addressing Wittgenstein's Theory of Identity. This series also consists of the unpublished papers presented to the Cambridge Conversation Society (Apostles) including papers on ethical topics, economics, socialism, civilization and happiness, the philosophical problem of induction, and the philosophical and psychological views of John Stuart Mill. Notebooks contained in this series are Ramsey's class notes for classes he took from G.E. Moore on metaphysics, from Bertrand Russell on mathematical philosophy, from J.M. Keynes on probability theory, and from A.N. Whitehead on principles of natural knowledge. There is also a photocopy of an item from the King's College Archives.

Box 7
Folder 1 Early Notebooks
Folder 2 Early Essays
Folder 3 Douglas Proposal
Folder 4 Weyl
Folder 5 Peirce's Monist Article (1906)
Folder 6 Unpublished Papers for the Cambridge Discussion Society
Folder 7 Wittgenstein's Theory of Identity
Folder 8 Essay on Progress.
Folder 9 Nature of Truth, Read to the Apostles April 29th, 1922. (Photocopy)