Alice Ambrose

Alice Ambrose
Alice Loman Ambrose

November 25, 1906
Lexington, Illinois
DiedJanuary 25, 2001
Academic background
Alma materMillikin University,
University of Wisconsin–Madison,
Newnham College
Doctoral advisorG. E. Moore,
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of Michigan,
Smith College

Alice Ambrose Lazerowitz (November 25, 1906 – January 25, 2001) was an American philosopher, logician, and author.

Early life and education

Alice Loman Ambrose was born in Lexington, Illinois and orphaned when she was 13 years old.[1] She studied philosophy and mathematics at Millikin University (1924–28).[2] After completing her PhD at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1932, she went to Cambridge University (Newnham College) to study with G. E. Moore and Ludwig Wittgenstein, where she earned a second PhD in 1938.


Having become a close disciple of Wittgenstein, Ambrose later related her association with him in Ludwig Wittgenstein: Philosophy and Language (1972), a volume co-edited with her husband Morris Lazerowitz. Along with fellow student Margaret MacDonald she secretly (since he did not allow this) made notes during Wittgenstein's lectures, which were later published.[3] She was one of a select group of students to whom Wittgenstein dictated the so-called Blue and Brown Books, which outline the transition in Wittgenstein's thought between his two major works, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and Philosophical Investigations. Wittgenstein terminated their association abruptly in 1935, when Ambrose decided, with encouragement from G.E.Moore, to publish an article entitled "Finitism in Mathematics" in the philosophical journal Mind[4] which was intended to give an account of Wittgenstein's position on the subject.


Ambrose began her career at the University of Michigan, when she returned to the United States in 1935. She then took a position in Smith College in 1937, where she remained for the rest of her career. She was awarded the Austin and Sophia Smith chair in Philosophy in 1964 and became Professor Emeritus in 1972. Between 1953 and 1968, she was editor of the Journal of Symbolic Logic. She worked chiefly in logic and mathematical philosophy, writing a primer on the subject with her husband which became a widely used textbook and was known as "Ambrose and Lazerowitz".[5] She collaborated with her husband on a number of works: Fundamentals of Symbolic Logic (1948), Logic: The Theory of Formal Inference (1961), Philosophical Theories (1976) and Essays in the Unknown Wittgenstein (1984). Even after her retirement she continued to teach and guest lecture at Smith and other universities around the country until her death, at the age of 94, on January 25, 2001.

Her personal papers are held at Smith College Archives.[6]


  • Ambrose, A. & M. Lazerowitz (1948). Fundamentals of Symbolic Logic. Rinehart.
  • Ambrose, A. (1966). Essays in Analysis. Allen & Unwin.
  • Ambrose, A. & M. Lazerowitz, ed. (1948). Logic: The Theory of Formal Inference. Rinehart.
  • Ambrose, A. & M. Lazerowitz, ed. (1970). G.E. Moore : essays in retrospect. Allen & Unwin.
  • Ambrose, A. & M. Lazerowitz, ed. (1972). Ludwig Wittgenstein: Philosophy and Language. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0041000293.
  • Ambrose, A. & M. Lazerowitz (1976). Philosophical Theories. Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 9027975019.
  • Ambrose, A. & M. Lazerowitz, ed. (1984). Essays in the unknown Wittgenstein. Prometheus Books.
  • Ambrose, A. & M. Lazerowitz (1985). Necessity and language. Croom Helm. ISBN 0709941013.

See also


  1. ^ Shook, John R. (2005). Dictionary of modern American philosophers. Bristol: Thoemmes. ISBN 1843710374.
  2. ^ "Alice Ambrose Lazerowitz". Smithpedia. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  3. ^ Ambrose, Alice (1979). Wittgenstein's lectures : Cambridge, 1932-1935; from the notes of Alice Ambrose and Margaret Macdonald. Blackwell. ISBN 0631101411.
  4. ^ Ambrose, Alice (1935). "Finitism in Mathematics". Mind. 44 (174): 186–203. doi:10.1093/mind/XLIV.174.186.
  5. ^ Ambrose, Alice (1948). Fundamentals of Symbolic Logic. Rinehart.
  6. ^ "Alice Ambrose Lazerowitz Papers". Retrieved 18 December 2013.

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