This chapter explains how symbols, by providing a blank background on which we may contemplate unadulterated meaning, help us see and distinguish what is essential. It first considers the claim advanced by the German naturalist Gotthilf von Schubert in the nineteenth century that we dream in a traumbildsprache (“dream visual language”), “a higher kind of algebra,” not in a verbal language. It then discusses the study of dreams by Calvin Hall and Vernon Nordby; Christopher Chabris's and Daniel Simons's “Invisible Gorilla” experiment; and experiments undertaken by Stanislas Dehaene to investigate differences in brain activity between contemplations of numbers and words. It also revisits the study done by Anthony Jansen, Kim Marriott, and Greg Yelland of Monash University to find out how experienced users of mathematics comprehend algebraic expressions. Finally, it suggests how particular notational configurations may help us recognize structure in mathematical expressions and process equations.
Princeton Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.
To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.