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Thinking about Mathematics: The Philosophy of Mathematics 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0192893062
ISBN-10: 0192893068
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Stewart Shapiro admirably provides an accessible introduction to contemporary thinking in mathematics, while avoiding caricature of the technicalities. His ease with the subject and lucid style makes this book a succinct introduction to a fascinating intellectual discipline." Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Stewart Shapiro is Professor of Philosophy at Ohio State University at Newark and Professorial Fellow in the Department of Logic and Metaphysics at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 5, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192893068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192893062
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.7 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Anybody who's interested in why mathematics might have the least bit to do with philosophy will be interested in this book. To many the philosophy of mathematics may seem too specialized and peripheral to be of much interest. But such is not the case. The philosophy of math is intricately intertwined with many of the classic epistemological questions that I have never seen satisfactory answers to. This book will force you to think about things you have never considered before. Why does mathematics 'just happen' to describe empirical studies so well if mathematics is solely logical and in the head? Or is mathematics empirical and merely charading as necessary logical truth? These questions will be brought up in the book and the different answers given from the different philisophical sides.

Some of the book is a little dense and may be skimmed. He does go into detail a bit much in some places and the non technical reader will be lost. But Shapiro usually does do a good job of summarizing complex thoughts.

This book whetted my appetite for more and I plan on continuing thinking about these things and hopefully take some classes in mathematical logic and philosophy.
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Format: Paperback
In this introductory level text Prof. Shapiro has presented a thorough introduction to the philosophy of mathematics. Not only does he discuss the three most fundamental positions in the field, but he also provides insight into more recent developments. I would highly suggest this work to anyone interested in having a solid understanding of this issues at stake in the philosophy of mathematics. Along with Paul Benacerraf and Hillary Putnam's book of philosophy of mathematics readings this is a must have!
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By A Customer on October 5, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the best introduction to the philosophy of mathematics I've come across. The concepts presented are clear, up to date, and presented with a minimum of formulas and symbols. The author has an easy going style that will just pull you into this fascinating topic.
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I am a reader with some basic background in logic and philosophy of language. Despite this background, I find Shapiro terribly difficult to read. For example, I read the section on Kant three times and am still not sure whether I understood anything. There must be simpler ways of explaining the material he presents.

So this might be a great book for someone with a solid backgrounds in both philosophy and mathematics who wants to know more about questions at the crossroads of both fields. However, I absolutely do not recommend it as an introduction to these ideas.
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Format: Paperback
An excellent book that I recommend to readers interested on mathematical philosophy who are not specialists. A nice difference with other books covering the topic is that no term is considered known so the reader does not have to be accompanied with a philosophy encyclopedia. Needless to say that concepts and ideas are clearly exposed. Congratulations to Prof. Shapiro.
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Format: Paperback
Unless you're a philosophy student or have one degree or more in philosophy
you could have trouble understanding this book (and likely any other book
on the philosophy of mathematics). Having a mathematics education with no
real philosophy classes taken isn't enough The course in logic ( the one offered
by the philosophy department) that college mathematics majors take will not help
you very much. A dictionary of philosophy is needed when you are reading
the text. and then it's still hard to read through -- that's how it was for me! And I
thought that I could get good at the philosophy of mathematics! The book
is described by the author as a popular math philosophy book. You can start reading
this book with the intention of going through all of it and you might not complete the read.
There are more basic philosophy of mathematics books available, but not many.
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This is a great book. It gives a comprehensive view of what math is really about, not about how to do math. It covers the fundamental issues as to the nature of mathematical entities and related problems all the way from ancient times to the present. It also engages some thorny problems concerning the discipline, all in fluent unobtrusive language that makes understanding easier than usual, without sacrificing depth or breath. I recommend it to anyone who, like myself, has struggled for a long time to grasp the significance, importance and limitations of math. As far as my needs are concerned, this is the best book on the subject that I have come across.
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I decided to buy this book because I started getting into the foundations and abstract of mathematics while in college and decided that this book would help round out my appreciation for it.
Definitely a higher level read since I'm not well versed in philosophical reading, but I ultimately enjoy it, once I get understand some of the technical issues.
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