What is mathematics? Perspectives inspired by anthropology

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The paper discusses the question “What is mathematics?” from a point of view inspired by anthropology. In this perspective, the character of mathematical thinking and argument is strongly affected - almost essentially determined, indeed - by the dynamics of the specific social, mostly professional environments by which it is carried. Environments where future practitioners are taught as apprentices produce an approach different from that resulting from teaching in a school - the latter inviting to intra-mathematical explanation in a way the former does not. Moreover, once the interaction with the early classical Greek philosophical quest for causes and general explanations had caused mathematical explanation to become an autonomous endeavour in the shape of explicit proof and deductivity, proof and deductivity presented themselves as options - sometimes exploited, sometimes not - even in the teaching of mathematics for practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Nature and Development of Mathematics : Cross Disciplinary Perspectives on Cognition, Learning and Culture
EditorsJohn W. Adams, Patrick Barmby, Alex Mesoudi
Place of PublicationLondon & New York
Publication date2017
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-12441-7
ISBN (Electronic)9781315648163
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventEmergent mathematics workshop - Durham University, Stockton on Tees, United Kingdom
Duration: 16 Mar 201516 Mar 2015


WorkshopEmergent mathematics workshop
LocationDurham University
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityStockton on Tees

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