Movement, Memory and Mathematics: Henri Bergson and the Ontology of Learning

Studies in Philosophy and Education 34 (6):565-585 (2015)


Using the work of philosopher Henri Bergson to examine the nature of movement and memory, this article contributes to recent research on the role of the body in learning mathematics. Our aim in this paper is to introduce the ideas of Bergson and to show how these ideas shed light on mathematics classroom activity. Bergson’s monist philosophy provides a framework for understanding the materiality of both bodies and mathematical concepts. We discuss two case studies of classrooms to show how the mathematical concepts of number and function are themselves mobile and full of potentiality, open to deformation and the remapping of the possible. Bergson helps us look differently at mathematical activity in the classroom, not as a closed set of distinct interacting bodies groping after abstract concepts, but as a dynamic relational assemblage

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