Figures, Formulae, and Functors

This article suggests a novel way to advance a current debate in the philosophy of mathematics. The debate concerns the role of diagrams and visual reasoning in proofs—which I take to concern the criteria of legitimate representation of mathematical thought. Drawing on the so-called ‘maverick’ approach to philosophy of mathematics, I turn to mathematical practice itself to adjudicate in this debate, and in particular to category theory, because there (a) diagrams obviously play a major role, and (b) category theory itself addresses questions of representation and information preservation over mappings. We obtain a mathematical answer to a philosophical question: a good mathematical representation can be characterized as a category theoretic natural transformation
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