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Why Is There Philosophy of Mathematics At All?


  • Date Published: January 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107658158

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About the Authors
  • This truly philosophical book takes us back to fundamentals - the sheer experience of proof, and the enigmatic relation of mathematics to nature. It asks unexpected questions, such as 'what makes mathematics mathematics?', 'where did proof come from and how did it evolve?', and 'how did the distinction between pure and applied mathematics come into being?' In a wide-ranging discussion that is both immersed in the past and unusually attuned to the competing philosophical ideas of contemporary mathematicians, it shows that proof and other forms of mathematical exploration continue to be living, evolving practices - responsive to new technologies, yet embedded in permanent (and astonishing) facts about human beings. It distinguishes several distinct types of application of mathematics, and shows how each leads to a different philosophical conundrum. Here is a remarkable body of new philosophical thinking about proofs, applications, and other mathematical activities.

    • Addresses the experience of doing mathematics
    • Treats mathematics as an aspect of human nature
    • Explores how the distinction between pure and applied mathematics came into being
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Hacking does not restrict himself to the foundations of mathematics, but dares to cover both the breadth and the depth of mathematical philosophy.' Literary Review of Canada

    '… readable, presented in easily digestible chunks, clearly explained, and just a lot of fun …' Danny Yee's Book Reviews

    'Show[s] non-specialists … the sort of distinctive contribution to science and maths that a brilliant, very well-informed, philosopher can bring … I thoroughly recommend this book.' Alan Weir, The Times Literary Supplement

    'Hacking has composed a great overview of our understanding of mathematics and of the historical turning points and philosophical basics.' Peeter Müürsepp, Mathematical Reviews

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107658158
    • length: 304 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. A Cartesian introduction
    2. What makes mathematics mathematics?
    3. Why is there philosophy of mathematics?
    4. Proofs
    5. Applications
    6. In Plato's name
    7. Counter-Platonisms

  • Author

    Ian Hacking, University of Toronto
    Ian Hacking is a retired professor of Collège de France, Chair of Philosophy and History of Scientific Concepts, and retired University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. His most recent books include The Social Construction of What? (1999), An Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic (Cambridge University Press, 2001), The Emergence of Probability (Cambridge University Press, 2006), Scientific Reason (2009) and Exercises in Analysis (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

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