### Abstract

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.

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 language | English |
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Place of Publication | Roskilde |

Publisher | Roskilde Universitet |

Number of pages | 19 |

Publication status | Published - 23 Mar 2015 |

## Cite this

Høyrup, J. (2015).

*What is Mathematics? Perspectives inspired by anthropology*. Roskilde Universitet.