The Berlin School of Mathematics
Anyone at this workshop who happens to be familiar with my publications in history of mathematics would probably classify me as a practitioner of what Mehrtens and others call the internal history of science. Although I would not dispute such a categorization — and I am delighted that Mehrtens sees a future for internal history — I would be the first to admit that internal history in the strict sense is insufficient to provide a complete understanding of the growth of mathematical knowledge. Historical studies that fall under the rubric of social history of mathematics are essential to our understanding of the history of mathematics. In his paper Mehrtens has indicated a number of diverse approaches to history that might constitute social history of mathematics, especially 19th-century mathematics. I agree wholeheartedly with him that it would not be wise to discourage diverse modes of research in favor of a “unified” approach to social history. Indeed I would like to suggest a further way in which social history might be pursued to the benefit of, and in conjunction with, internal history.
KeywordsMathematical Knowledge Social History Quadric Surface Elementary Divisor Symbolical Algebra
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