Most philosophers of mathematics treat it as isolated, timeless, ahistorical, inhuman. Reuben Hersh argues the contrary, that mathematics must be understood as a human activity, a social phenomenon, part of human culture, historically evolved, and intelligible only in a social context. Hersh pulls the screen back to reveal mathematics as seen by professionals, debunking many mathematical myths, and demonstrating how the "humanist" idea of the nature of mathematics more closely resembles how mathematicians actually work. At the heart of his book is a fascinating historical account of the mainstream of philosophy--ranging from Pythagoras, Descartes, and Spinoza, to Bertrand Russell, David Hilbert, and Rudolph Carnap--followed by the mavericks who saw mathematics as a human artifact, including Aristotle, Locke, Hume, Mill, and Lakatos. What is Mathematics, Really? reflects an insider's view of mathematical life, and will be hotly debated by anyone with an interest in mathematics or the philosophy of science.
Mathematics is a subject we are all exposed to in our daily lives, but one that many of us fear. Timothy Gowers’s entertaining overview of the topic explains the differences between what we learn at school and advanced mathematics, and helps the math phobic emerge with a clearer understanding of such paradoxical-sounding concepts as “infinity,” “curved space,” and “imaginary numbers.” From basic ideas to philosophical queries to common sociological questions about the mathematical community, this book unravels the mysteries of space and numbers.
The twentieth century has witnessed an unprecedented 'crisis in the foundations of mathematics', featuring a world-famous paradox (Russell's Paradox), a challenge to 'classical' mathematics from a world-famous mathematician (the 'mathematical intuitionism' of Brouwer), a new foundational school (Hilbert's Formalism), and the profound incompleteness results of Kurt Gödel. In the same period, the cross-fertilization of mathematics and philosophy resulted in a new sort of 'mathematical philosophy', associated most notably (but in different ways) with Bertrand Russell, W. V. Quine, and Gödel himself, and which remains at the focus of Anglo-Saxon philosophical discussion. The present collection brings together in a convenient form the seminal articles in the philosophy of mathematics by these and other major thinkers. It is a substantially revised version of the edition first published in 1964 and includes a revised bibliography. The volume will be welcomed as a major work of reference at this level in the field.
An exploration of the life and work of the thirteenth-century mathematician Ch'in, this fascinating book examines a range of mathematical issues that reflect Chinese life of a millennium ago. Its first part consists of four closely related studies of Ch'in and his work. The first study brings together what is known of the mathematician's life and of the history of his only extant work, the Shu-shu chiu-chang. Subsequent studies examine the entire range of mathematical techniques and problems found within Ch'in's book. The core of this book consists of an in-depth study of what modern mathematicians still refer to as the Chinese remainder theorem for the solution of indeterminate equations of the first degree. This was Ch'in's most original contribution to mathematics--so original that no one could correctly explain Ch'in's procedure until the early nineteenth century. This volume's concluding study unites information on artisanal, economic, administrative, and military affairs dispersed throughout Ch'in's writings, providing rare insights into thirteenth-century China.
Authors analyze mathematics education from a range of perspectives. They address such practical problems as: maximizing the impact of teacher education programmes; increasing learning opportunities for students working in groups; and the impact of male domination in mixed classrooms.