Hersh calls this view of mathematics humanism. However, I do not concur with the author’s philosophy of mathematics. I think it is aimed at the general lay-person and indeed the non-mathematician would get something from it but in the main you have to be a mathematician to get the most from it as it deals with some very fundamental features of the subject. Both formalism and Platonism often give the impression that they deal with mathematics as a completed product, when in fact mathematics is produced by people working in socio-cultural contexts. Mathematical … User Review - Not Available - Book Verdict. Here is an non idealized, messed up if you will, version of math that takes into account what mathematicians really do, and not just what philosophers have to say and adjudicate about it. In a subversive attack on traditional philosophies of mathematics, most notably Platonism and formalism, he shows 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. It is extremely well written and was a joy to read, Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 2, 2015. There were three major points of view in the debate about the nature of mathematics. After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in. You do not need high powered mathematical background to follow the book. Reviewed in the United States on May 17, 2014. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 25, 2018. A Mathematician's Apology (Canto Classics), Where Mathematics Come From: How The Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics Into Being, The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn, How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method (Princeton Science Library), What's Math Got to Do with It? A Masterpiece on the Philosophy of Mathematics, Reviewed in the United States on December 26, 2019. Or consider Fermat's Last Theorem: is there any other field of human endeavor in which a question posed in 1636 can still make sense, in exactly the original terms, 350 years later? Most philosophers of mathematics treat it as isolated, timeless, ahistorical, inhuman. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. Reviewed in the United States on May 2, 2014. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in Amazon's fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products. Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices. The book concludes with an invocation of the story of the blind men and the elephant "as a metaphor for the philosophy of mathematics, with its Wise Men groping at the wondrous beast, Mathematics." Platonism and elitism fit together naturally. It makes modest claims for mathematics which actually correspond to our human experience as mathematicians, and it takes seriously the fact that mathematics is learned and taught. It also analyzes reviews to verify trustworthiness. This is a position that many mathematicians find extremely hard to take. Unable to add item to List. First, I need to disclose that I'm not a mathematician or a philosopher. I found the literary style to be highly palatable. Reviewed in the United States on December 27, 2007. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. The book being reviewed here, “What is Mathematics, Really?”, is engagingly written. Hersh sets out to define the parameters of a philosophy of maths, his best answer being a socio-historiic-cultural context, resolving the Platonist / formalist split, the ethereal real zone of Platonism being replaced by the collective human mind/brain. In fact, he argues, regardless of our ideals, mathematics is done by fallible people, and so the traditional philosophies cannot really guarantee certainty.