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Circles DisturbedThe Interplay of Mathematics and Narrative$
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Apostolos Doxiadis and Barry Mazur

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691149042

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691149042.001.0001

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Mathematics and Narrative: An Aristotelian Perspective

Mathematics and Narrative: An Aristotelian Perspective

(p.389) Chapter 11 Mathematics and Narrative: An Aristotelian Perspective
Circles Disturbed

G. E. R. Lloyd

, Apostolos Doxiadis, Barry Mazur
Princeton University Press

This chapter explores the relationship between mathematics and narrative from an Aristotelian perspective. Aristotle's philosophy of mathematics is radically different from that of Plato. For example, Aristotle did not postulate separate intelligible mathematical objects. For Aristotle, mathematics studied the mathematical properties of physical objects, in abstraction from the physical properties those objects possessed. Another divergence between Aristotle and Plato relates to comments that the former made in the Metaphysics about the activity of mathematicians and the actualization of certain potentialities in their work. In particular, three terms mentioned by Aristotle are problematic: orthe, diagramma, and energeia. The chapter argues that Aristotle challenged the conception of mathematics as atemporal, soon after Plato defended it, by insisting that mathematical proofs are produced by energeia.

Keywords:   mathematics, narrative, Aristotle, Plato, mathematical objects, mathematicians, orthe, diagramma, energeia, proof

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