Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

## Michael D. Resnik

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198250142

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198250142.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 22 January 2019

# Patterns and Mathematical Knowledge

Chapter:
(p.224) 11 Patterns and Mathematical Knowledge
Source:
Mathematics as a Science of Patterns
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198250142.003.0011

I present a hypothetical account of how the ancients might have come to introduce mathematical objects in order to describe patterns, and I explain how working with patterns can generate information about the mathematical realm. The ancients might have started using what I call templates, i.e. concrete devices, like blueprints or drawings, to represent how things are shaped or structured, and this could have evolved into representing the abstract patterns that concrete things might fit. In this way, they might have come to believe that written constructions and computations could provide information about the mathematical realm, for by their very nature, patterns should be structurally analogous to their templates and in positing that they are, one simply projects onto structures and features already attributed to templates. By reflecting on systems of dots representing cardinalities, the ancients could generate a body of results that then evolved into a systematic theory of numbers, but the approach fails when there is no direct connection between the computations and the patterns they are supposed to concern, e.g. those concerning trigonometric functions or transfinite ordinal numbers. In these cases, we forge a connection between proofs and patterns by positing that the premises of the proofs state uncontroversial features of the patterns, i.e. the premises constitute implicit definitions of the patterns. I explain how this position does not entail that mathematics is analytic or a priori.

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.