Objects and Processes in Mathematical Practice

Foundations of Science 16 (4):337-351 (2011)
Abstract
In this paper it is argued that the fundamental difference of the formal and the informal position in the philosophy of mathematics results from the collision of an object and a process centric perspective towards mathematics. This collision can be overcome by means of dialectical analysis, which shows that both perspectives essentially depend on each other. This is illustrated by the example of mathematical proof and its formal and informal nature. A short overview of the employed materialist dialectical approach is given that rationalises mathematical development as a process of model production. It aims at placing more emphasis on the application aspects of mathematical results. Moreover, it is shown how such production realises subjective capacities as well as objective conditions, where the latter are mediated by mathematical formalism. The approach is further sustained by Polanyi’s theory of problem solving and Stegmaier’s philosophy of orientation. In particular, the tool and application perspective illuminates which role computer-based proofs can play in mathematics
Keywords Argumentation  Mathematical knowledge  Mathematical practice  Formal proof  Informal proof  Dialectic
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