Dummett, Michael

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Sir Michael Dummett in 2004
1925 - 2011

Tarot contribution

Sir Michael Dummett has had a major impact on Tarot historical research in particular, beginning with his monumental Game of Tarot appearing in 1980, his research and contributions on the Visconti-Sforza deck, and his later co-authored works dealing with the history of tarot in general: A Wicked Pack of Cards and History of the Occult Tarot 1870-1970.

Michael Dummett has in addition been a major contributor to the International Playing Card Society. Also, Dummett collaborated to realize some of the recent most important exhibits about Tarot History: Tarot. Jeu et Magie (with Thierry Depaulis, at the National Bibliotheque of Paris, 1984), I Tarocchi. Gioco e Magia alla Corte degli Estensi (with Giordano Berti [[1]] and Andrea Vitali, at the Estense Castel in Ferrara, 1987) and Tarocchi. Arte e Magia (with Giordano Berti and Andrea Vitali, at the Sant'Angelo Castel in Rome).


Sir Michael Anthony Eardley Dummett (born 27 June 1925 - died 27 December 2011) is a leading British philosopher. He has both written on the history of analytic philosophy, and made original contributions to the subject, particularly in the areas of philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of logic, philosophy of language and metaphysics. He also devised the Quota Borda system of proportional voting, based on the Borda count, and has written scholarly works on tarot. Other interests have been immigration law and English grammar and usage.

In 1944 he was received into the Roman Catholic Church, and remains a practising Catholic. He studied at Christ Church, Oxford, and was awarded a fellowship at All Souls College. In 1979, he became Wykeham Professor of Logic at Oxford, a post he held until retiring in 1992. He received a Knighthood in 1999.

His work on the German philosopher Gottlob Frege has also been acclaimed. His first book Frege: Philosophy of Language (1973), written over many years, is now regarded as a classic. The book was instrumental in the rediscovery of Frege's work, and influenced a whole generation of philosophers.

In his paper Realism he popularised the term anti-realism, used to describe any position involving either the denial of the objective reality of entities of a certain type or the insistence that we should be agnostic about their real existence. Thus, we may speak of anti-realism with respect to other minds, the past, the future, universals, mathematical entities (such as natural numbers), moral categories, the material world, or even thought.

The novelty of Dummett's approach consisted in seeing these disputes as analogous to the dispute between intuitionism and platonism in the philosophy of mathematics.

Dummett has been politically active, through his work as a campaigner against racism, who let his philosophical career stall in order to influence civil rights for minorities during what he saw as a crucial period of reform in the late 1960s, and also through his work on the theory of voting, which led to his introduction of the Quota Borda system. As a historian of the Tarot, who has argued that the medieval use of the Tarot was as a set of playing cards and that it only acquired its association with the occult or esoteric in the 18th century.

some philosophical works

  • Frege: Philosophy of Language (London 1973/1981)
  • Frege: Philosophy of Mathematics (London 1991)
  • Elements of Intuitionism (Oxford 1977, 2000)
  • The Logical Basis of Metaphysics (London 1991)
  • Origins of Analytical Philosophy (London 1993)
  • The Seas of Language (Oxford 1993)
  • Truth and Other Enigmas (London 1978)
  • Truth and the Past (Oxford, 2005)
  • Voting Procedures (Oxford 1984)
  • Principles of Electoral Reform (New York 1997)





The History of Games Played with the Tarot Pack: The Game Of Triumphs

This web site (tarotgame.org) has been set up by the authors to publish updates to the book, including descriptions of addtional games.

Books on this author

A number of books and Encyclopaedias reference Michael Dummett in major ways.