Friday, December 05, 2008

Meanwhile, reading Giaquinto

I'm still working away on Parsons's book -- and I'm rather stumped by his claims about "intuitive knowledge". One worry is this: he introduces the notion in cases where we acquire propositional knowledge by, as it were, "just seeing" e.g. that "|||" is the successor of "||". But he fairly rapidly wants to extend the notion of intuitive knowledge so that it is preserved under some, but not all, logical inference, and some but not all applications of arithmetical induction. And I just can't see what the constraint on the notion is that rules some cases in and others out -- for that constraint certainly isn't implicit in the cases which introduce the notion in the first place.

Well, be all that as it may. For light relief -- and to see if any sideways light can be thrown on Parsons's on intuition more generally -- I'm reading Marcus Giaquinto's Visual Thinking in Mathematics (OUP, 2007). The first few chapters already show that, unsurprisingly, the book is written with Marcus's customary clarity and good sense. I'll report back in due course as I read more: but already I'm having to backtrack a bit and slightly rethink things that I earlier wrote on Parsons.


Shawn said...

There is a nice review of Giaquinto's book on Jeremy Avigad's website. It is pretty critical, although positive. He has a nice discussion of Giaquinto's project as it relates to the practice and foundations of math.

Peter Smith said...

Thanks for that, Shawn. Yes, a very interesting review.

notedscholar said...

Yes, the hegemonic role played by "just seeing" is to me a well-worn philosophical cop-out. Virtually everything can be reduced to intuition, and collections of intuitions. Beware of this concept. And that's coming from a veteran of philosophy.

Science is much more concrete.


a cartesian said...

Btw, I noticed a "Go Rachel and Vincent" in your Ephemera. Are you still enthusiastic about their dancing? I thought their tango was wonderful.