What is Mathematics, Really?

What is Mathematics, Really? by Reuben Hersh

Synopsis: Most philosophers of mathematics treat it as isolated, timeless, ahistorical, inhuman. Reuben Hersh argues the contrary, that mathematics must be understood as a human activity, a social phenomenon, part of human culture, historically evolved, and intelligible only in a social context. Hersh pulls the screen back to reveal mathematics as seen by professionals, debunking many mathematical myths, and demonstrating how the “humanist” idea of the nature of mathematics more closely resembles how mathematicians actually work. At the heart of his book is a fascinating historical account of the mainstream of philosophy–ranging from Pythagoras, Descartes, and Spinoza, to Bertrand Russell, David Hilbert, and Rudolph Carnap–followed by the mavericks who saw mathematics as a human artifact, including Aristotle, Locke, Hume, Mill, and Lakatos.

What is Mathematics, Really? reflects an insider’s view of mathematical life, and will be hotly debated by anyone with an interest in mathematics or the philosophy of science.

Published: September 1997 | ISBN: 978-0195130874

Mini-bio: Reuben Hersh is an American mathematician and academic, best known for his writings on the nature, practice, and social impact of mathematics. This work challenges and complements mainstream philosophy of mathematics. Wikipedia

American Mathematical Society Book Review [pdf]
Mathematical Association of America Book Review
Humanistic Mathematics Journal Network Book Review [pdf]
The New York Review of Books Book Review

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