The Bourbaki Dream

In Dreamwork by veronicaLeave a Comment

The collective speaker of the Bourbaki group, told me in a second dream to make Dreamverse a community project.

This happened a month after Hilbert had given his instructions to collect the big dreams of the world of the past decade.

In this second dream, the messenger was Jean Dieudonné who was the speaker for this community of mathematicians (who  in Paris continued to advance mathematics for 50 years in the period following WWI).

Who was Bourbaki then, that mattered to Hilbert’s 23 core problems?  

Bourbaki was not a person but a group. Only a group could work on such a large project, starting as they were with limited resources and facing a huge challenge to advance knowledge.

After World War I, a couple of young mathematicians, were deeply dissatisfied with the material available to them to introduce different aspects of calculus to students. The material  did not include modern approaches or the best ideas of the Göttingen school, particularly Hilbert’s. They decided to form a group – possibly the first crowd sourcing  some would call it today –  by inviting other friends to take part in creating a new book of about “…1000 pages to be published within six months”.

From this first idea what came out was Bourbaki, the group that would work and publish for the next  50 years following a formalist or instrumentalist view of mathematics, something Hilbert himself had proposed.

How did Bourbaki manage to work as a group?

First came the drive to absorb all sorts of inputs and make a whole out of many new conceptions, with consistency, of all that had come into the scope of mathematics (after the legacy of Hilbert).

For this, the Bourbaki evolved as  a group for discussing and formalizing mathematical knowledge. Starting from a set of mathematics most general notions, they engaged with passion and discussion in the most controversial ways, to reveal through deduction,  the new patterns and structures’ “special cases”, which as we now know, are shared by many mathematical spaces.

As a reference for Dreamverse’s online community what could possibly work better?

When we start to think of it, looking for relationships and patterns in dreams of people who are not formally connected around the world,  Bourbaki’s system and process seems the natural way to go into such complex and novel subject.


The wide scope of the Dreamverse’s community ensures the necessary “generality” of the basis or general notions. And it will be through groups and communities of interest everywhere, that many authoring groups will work out the  ‘special cases’.

Through all of YOU, these cases and stories will come to life, deepening our understanding of what the core problems in Your community of interest. Whether it is a meaning for your town, or your profession, or for the environment, for the past or the future,  or something else, it is entirely up to every group.

Bourbaki was a fascinating and incredibly lively community and a beacon for Dreamverse. They would have regular meetings, usually three or so per year, each lasting about a week  or sometimes two.  Their discussion kept a ‘carefully disorganized character’, with everyone being able to interrupt anybody else in mid sentence.  They discovered that  “…groundbreaking ideas were more likely to arise from confrontation than from an orderly discussion.”

When such diverse people is coming together in Dreamverse – from all world cultures and walks of life – we expect nothing less. When people in freedom, with liberty, without prejudice, share their minds and different perspectives with passion, Dreamverse will become this animated creative cauldron. Everyone, by themselves, and in groups and communities, will discover the new in their own, and in overlapping interests at every turn.

The Bourbaki group was wholly committed to their work and convinced of its value. They passionately dedicated their time and energy for over 50 years,  even though many goals seemed distant and at times unreachable… a most fitting image of how Dreamverse will work together.

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