# Mathematical Knowledge and the Interplay of Practices

## José Ferreirós

### Abstract

This book presents a new approach to the epistemology of mathematics by viewing mathematics as a human activity whose knowledge is intimately linked with practice. Charting an exciting new direction in the philosophy of mathematics, the book uses the crucial idea of a continuum to provide an account of the development of mathematical knowledge that reflects the actual experience of doing math and makes sense of the perceived objectivity of mathematical results. Describing a historically oriented, agent-based philosophy of mathematics, the book shows how the mathematical tradition evolved from ... More

This book presents a new approach to the epistemology of mathematics by viewing mathematics as a human activity whose knowledge is intimately linked with practice. Charting an exciting new direction in the philosophy of mathematics, the book uses the crucial idea of a continuum to provide an account of the development of mathematical knowledge that reflects the actual experience of doing math and makes sense of the perceived objectivity of mathematical results. Describing a historically oriented, agent-based philosophy of mathematics, the book shows how the mathematical tradition evolved from Euclidean geometry to the real numbers and set-theoretic structures. It argues for the need to take into account a whole web of mathematical and other practices that are learned and linked by agents, and whose interplay acts as a constraint. It demonstrates how advanced mathematics, far from being a priori, is based on hypotheses, in contrast to elementary math, which has strong cognitive and practical roots and therefore enjoys certainty. Offering a wealth of philosophical and historical insights, the book challenges us to rethink some of our most basic assumptions about mathematics, its objectivity, and its relationship to culture and science.

*Keywords: *
mathematics,
mathematical knowledge,
objectivity,
practice,
agents,
Euclidean geometry,
real numbers,
advanced mathematics,
hypotheses

### Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2015 |
Print ISBN-13: 9780691167510 |

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017 |
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691167510.001.0001 |