Aesthetics, Intuition/Insight and the feelings associated with mathematics

  • Leone Burton
Part of the Mathematics Education Library book series (MELI, volume 34)


In this chapter, I explore the role the mathematicians perceived for aesthetics in their coming to know but also look more closely at intuition (which some mathematicians preferred to call insight) and the connections the mathematicians made between intuition and aesthetics, intuition and beauty are related. The mathematicians discussed aesthetics and intuition/insight in terms that were emotive, full of expressed feelings. Both appeared to contribute, sometimes severally, sometimes together, to the ways in which the mathematicians came to know. Their role is, therefore, very interesting, spanning and linking the domains of feeling and knowing. Unlike most of the mathematicians, including the one whose quote opens this chapter, the aesthetic described by the next participant lies not in the product, that is the proof, but in the chosen strategy to reach that end:

How you choose to make the decisions about the route you are going to follow constitutes the aesthetics of mathematics. I make these decisions by guessing — that is the intuition part — it feels good.


Functional Category Positive Feeling Pure Mathematician Mathematical Activity Aesthetic Judgment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leone Burton
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of BirminghamLondonUK

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