18 Unconventional Essays on the Nature of Mathematics

  • Reuben Hersh

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxi
  2. Alfréd Rényi
    Pages 1-16
  3. William P. Thurston
    Pages 37-55
  4. Andrew Aberdein
    Pages 56-70
  5. Brian Rotman
    Pages 97-127
  6. Donald MacKenzie
    Pages 128-146
  7. William Timothy Gowers
    Pages 182-200
  8. Alfonso C. del Ávila Palacio
    Pages 236-249
  9. Reuben Hersh
    Pages 320-326

About this book


Advance praise for 18 Unconventional Essays on the Nature of Mathematics:

"I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book does not treat mathematics as dessicated formal logic but as a living organism, immediately recognizable to any working mathematician."

- Sir Michael Atiyah, University of Edinburgh

"A wonderful collection of essays on the philosophy of mathematics, some by mathematicians, others by philosophers, and all having significant things to say. Most readers will be informed, some will be infuriated, but all will be stimulated."

- John H. Conway, John von Neumann Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, Princeton University


This startling new collection of essays edited by Reuben Hersh contains frank facts and opinions from leading mathematicians, philosophers, sociologists, cognitive scientists, and even an anthropologist. Each essay provides a challenging and thought-provoking look at recent advances in the philosophy of mathematics, demonstrating the possibilities of thinking fresh, sticking close to actual practice, and fearlessly letting go of standard shibboleths.

The following essays are included:

* Alfred Renyi: Socratic Dialogue

* Carlo Cellucci: Filosofia e Matematica, introduction

* William Thurston: On Proof and Progress in Mathematics

* Andrew Aberdein: The Informal Logic of Mathematical Proof

* Yehuda Rav: Philosophical Problems of Mathematics in Light of Evolutionary Epistemology

* Brian Rotman: Towards a Semiotics of Mathematics

* Donald Mackenzie: Computers and the Sociology of Mathematical Proof

* Terry Stanway: From G.H.H. and Littlewood to XML and Maple: Changing Needs and Expectations in Mathematical Knowledge Management

* Rafael Nunez: Do Numbers Really Move?

* Timothy Gowers: Does Mathematics Need a Philosophy?

* Jody Azzouni: How and Why Mathematics is a Social Practice

* Gian-Carlo Rota: The Pernicious Influence of Mathematics Upon Philosophy

* Jack Schwartz: The Pernicious Influence of Mathematics on Science

* Alfonso Avila del Palacio: What is Philosophy of Mathematics Looking For?

* Andrew Pickering: Concepts and the Mangle of Practice: Constructing Quaternions

* Eduard Glas: Mathematics as Objective Knowledge and as Human Practice

* Leslie White: The Locus of Mathematical Reality: An Anthropological Footnote

* Reuben Hersh: Inner Vision, Outer Truth


Counting mathematics philosophy of mathematics physics proof

Editors and affiliations

  • Reuben Hersh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and StatisticsUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

Bibliographic information