Mathematical Beauty and Perceptual Presence

Philosophical Investigations 34 (3):249-267 (2011)
This paper discusses the viability of claims of mathematical beauty, asking whether mathematical beauty, if indeed there is such a thing, should be conceived of as a sub-variety of the more commonplace kinds of beauty: natural, artistic and human beauty; or, rather, as a substantive variety in its own right. If the latter, then, per the argument, it does not show itself in perceptual awareness – because perceptual presence is what characterises the commonplace kinds of beauty, and mathematical beauty is not among these. I conclude that the reference to mathematical beauty merely expresses the awe in the mathematician about the intricate complexities and simplicity of certain proofs, theorems or mathematical “objects.”
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9205.2010.01432.x
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A. Macintyre (1984). After Virtue. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 46 (1):169-171.

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