# The Nature of Mathematical Knowledge

## Philip Kitcher

### Abstract

The Nature of Mathematical Knowledge develops and defends an empiricist approach to mathematical knowledge. After offering an account of a priori knowledge, it argues that none of the available accounts of a priori mathematical knowledge is viable. It then constructs an approach to the content of mathematical statements, viewing mathematics as grounded in our manipulations of physical reality. From these crude beginnings, mathematics unfolds through the successive modifications of mathematical practice, spurred by the presence of unsolved problems. This process of unfolding is con ... More

The Nature of Mathematical Knowledge develops and defends an empiricist approach to mathematical knowledge. After offering an account of a priori knowledge, it argues that none of the available accounts of a priori mathematical knowledge is viable. It then constructs an approach to the content of mathematical statements, viewing mathematics as grounded in our manipulations of physical reality. From these crude beginnings, mathematics unfolds through the successive modifications of mathematical practice, spurred by the presence of unsolved problems. This process of unfolding is considered in general, and illustrated by considering the historical development of analysis from the seventeenth century to the end of the nineteenth.

*Keywords: *
kitcher,
a priori knowledge,
analysis,
apriorism,
conceptualism,
epistemology,
history of mathematics,
mathematical knowledge,
philosophy of mathematics

### Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 1985 |
Print ISBN-13: 9780195035414 |

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003 |
DOI:10.1093/0195035410.001.0001 |