Is Mathematics Problem Solving or Theorem Proving?

Foundations of Science 22 (1):183-199 (2017)
The question that is the subject of this article is not intended to be a sociological or statistical question about the practice of today’s mathematicians, but a philosophical question about the nature of mathematics, and specifically the method of mathematics. Since antiquity, saying that mathematics is problem solving has been an expression of the view that the method of mathematics is the analytic method, while saying that mathematics is theorem proving has been an expression of the view that the method of mathematics is the axiomatic method. In this article it is argued that these two views of the mathematical method are really opposed. In order to answer the question whether mathematics is problem solving or theorem proving, the article retraces the Greek origins of the question and Hilbert’s answer. Then it argues that, by Gödel’s incompleteness results and other reasons, only the view that mathematics is problem solving is tenable.
Keywords Problem solving  Theorem proving  Analytic method  Axiomatic method  David Hilbert  Incompleteness theorems
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DOI 10.1007/s10699-015-9475-2
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References found in this work BETA

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Mathematical Logic.Joseph R. Shoenfield - 1967 - Reading, Mass., Addison-Wesley Pub. Co..
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What is Mathematics, Really?Reuben Hersh - 1997 - Oxford University Press.

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