Philosophical aspects of symbolic reasoning in early modern mathematics

London: College Publications (2010)
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Abstract

The novel use of symbolism in early modern mathematics poses both philosophical and historical questions. How can we trace its development and transmission through manuscript sources? Is it intrinsically related to the emergence of symbolic algebra? How does symbolism relate to the use of diagrams? What are the consequences of symbolic reasoning on our understanding of nature? Can a symbolic language enable new forms of reasoning? Does a universal symbolic language exist which enable us to express all knowledge? This book brings together a collection of papers that address all these and related questions which were initially posed at a conference held in Ghent (Belgium) in August 2009. Scholars working on philosophy of science, history of philosophy and history of mathematics provide an insight into the role and function of symbolic representations in the development of early modern mathematics. The papers cover the period from early abbaco arithmetic and algebra (14h century) up to Leibniz (early 18th century).

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Albrecht Heeffer
Ghent University
Maarten Van Dyck
Ghent University

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