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Philosophy of Mathematics: A Contemporary Introduction to the World of Proofs and Pictures (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy) 2nd Edition

2.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415960472
ISBN-10: 0415960479
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Extraordinary! A brilliant, important book. Summing up: Highly recommended."
―M. Schiff, CHOICE

"…The book has been written in a very clear, lively way, it is a pleasure to read. It is very accessible, even entertaining, and the author is very good in explaining issues without technicalities. … Summarizing: a very elegant, accessible and up-to-date book on the philosophy of mathematics, not only very appropriate for beginners, but also a must for experts."
―H.C.M. de Swart, Zentralblatt MATH 1171

Praise for the First Edition:

"This book is a breath of fresh air for undergraduate philosophy of mathematics.  Very accessible and even entertaining, Brown explains most of the issues without technicalities. "
―Janet Folina, Macalester College

"A wonderful introduction to the philosophy of mathematics. It's lively, accessible, and, above all, a terrific read. It would make an ideal text for an undergraduate course on the philosophy of mathematics; indeed, I recommend it to anyone interested in the philosophy of mathematics ― even specialists in the area can learn from this book."
―Mark Colyvan, University of Sydney

 

About the Author

James Robert Brown is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto.
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Product Details

  • Series: Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (January 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415960479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415960472
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,806,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've always had trouble with the idea that mathematicians discover things, as opposed to inventing them. You see, if you discover something, the implication is that that something is, in some sense, out there. But where would mathematical entities reside, if not inside human brains and thought processes? I must say, reading this book has if not changed my mind at least made me seriously question my positions - which is really what you want from any good book. Brown's treatment is relatively accessible, but of course you will be in for a good amount of philosophy, and some not so easily digestible math. Still, the attentive reader can get the gist of the arguments without having to follow every proof presented by the author. I am a little less convinced, though still intrigued, by Brown's claim that pictures can - in some circumstances - do the work of formal proofs. Then again, that notion does appeal to my generally pluralistic attitude about methods of inquiry, and it does fit very well with the author's overall contention that mathematics is - surprisingly - a lot more like the natural sciences than one might think at first. Of course, all of this leaves completely unanswered the underlying question of the ontological status of mathematical objects. Oh well, can't get everything out of a single book.
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Format: Paperback
I second the objections to this book raised by the previous 1 star review. I further wish to rant about the tone of the entire book...I must be honest, I have not finished the book. I am considering not doing so. The Platonist biased is too strong for a simple introduction.

In that this is pegged as an introduction the demographic is presumably those who are not familiar with the arguments for the positions philosophers of mathematics hold. In this regard I feel it is bad form to produce an introduction that is so obviously skewed. It is reassuring that the author is up front concerning his position and bias. However, when the author off handedly rejects arguments by some of the giants in the field as non-sequiturs, he is doing a diservice to his readers who are as much his students. This is bias affecting argumentation that is bad form in philosophy, as far as I am concerned.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good and thorough coverage of the major subjects with plenty of references. Clearly written with lots of examples. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
subtract the left-wing anti-american rants and you may have an interesting book on the philosophy of mathematics. i wouldn't know. i stopped reading after seeing brown call murray & herrnstein's The Bell Curve "a vile book", which, judging by the author's comments, it is plain that he has not read.
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Format: Paperback
I didn't read this book, but I'd like to share with the other customers the "review" by Thomas William Körner, a mathematician from Cambridge University (winner of the Salem Prize 1972) that I appreciate so much for his vastly erudite, instructive, and entertaining books on mathematics. In chapter 1 of his "A Companion to Analysis," Professor Körner states: "A good example of this [that people are easily fooled by intuition and ignorance of mathematics] is given in the book [9] [J. R. Brown, "Philosophy of Mathematics]. The author cannot understand the problems involved in proving results like the intermediate value theorem and has written his book to share his lack of understanding with a wider audience."

What else can I say?
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