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http://dx.doi.org/10.14477/jhm.2017.30.4.247
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Metaphors for Mathematics and Philosophical Problems |

Park, Chang Kyun (Dept. of Philosophy, Seo Kyeong Univ.) |

Publication Information

Abstract

The goal of this essay is to examine metaphors for mathematics and to discuss philosophical problems related to them. Two metaphors for mathematics are well known. One is a tree and the other is a building. The former was proposed by Pasch, and the latter by Hilbert. The difference between these metaphors comes from different philosophies. Pasch's philosophy is a combination of empiricism and deductivism, and Hilbert's is formalism whose final task is to prove the consistency of mathematics. In this essay, I try to combine two metaphors from the standpoint that 'mathematics is a part of the ecosystem of science', because each of them is not good enough to reflect the holistic mathematics. In order to understand mathematics holistically, I suggest the criteria of the desirable philosophy of mathematics. The criteria consists of three categories: philosophy, history, and practice. According to the criteria, I argue that it is necessary to pay attention to Pasch's philosophy of mathematics as having more explanatory power than Hilbert's, though formalism is the dominant paradigm of modern mathematics. The reason why Pasch's philosophy is more explanatory is that it contains empirical nature. Modern philosophy of mathematics also tends to emphasize the empirical nature, and the synthesis of forms with contents agrees with the ecological analogy for mathematics.

Keywords

metaphor; tree; building; Pasch; Hilbert; ecological model; philosophy of mathematics;

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