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Mathematics without ApologiesPortrait of a Problematic Vocation$
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Michael Harris

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691175836

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691175836.001.0001

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Introduction: The Veil

Introduction: The Veil

(p.3) Chapter 1 Introduction: The Veil
Mathematics without Apologies

Michael Harris

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. This book is about how it feels to live a mathematician's double life: one life within this framework of professional autonomy, answerable only to their colleagues, and the other life in the world at large. It is written for readers without specialized training, which means it is primarily an account of mathematics as a way of life. Technical material is introduced only when it serves to illustrate a point and, as far as possible, only at the level of dinner-party conversation. The reader is warned at the outset that the author's objective is not to arrive at definitive conclusions but rather to elaborate on what Herbert Mehrtens calls “the usual answer to the question of what mathematics is,” namely, by pointing: “This is how one does mathematics.”

Keywords:   mathematicians, mathematics, Herbert Mehrtens

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