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*To*: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>*Subject*: Re: [xmca] a minus times a plus*From*: Wolff-Michael Roth <mroth@uvic.ca>*Date*: Wed, 29 Apr 2009 10:24:40 -0700*Delivered-to*: xmca@weber.ucsd.edu*Domainkey-signature*: a=rsa-sha1; s=2007001; d=ucsd.edu; c=simple; q=dns; b=FDBx2QyepbDTfE63E/wjhGBtevIQ9YCssZd/vitgZoLF6WTrYWcF4UbBXi/DTQBbM ewDSjsR2dkS3wvXVrgOvA==*In-reply-to*: <14a6419f0904290922h34790b99o3d43d176dba1ce9d@mail.gmail.com>*List-archive*: <http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/private/xmca>*List-help*: <mailto:xmca-request@weber.ucsd.edu?subject=help>*List-id*: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca.weber.ucsd.edu>*List-post*: <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>*List-subscribe*: <http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca>, <mailto:xmca-request@weber.ucsd.edu?subject=subscribe>*List-unsubscribe*: <http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca>, <mailto:xmca-request@weber.ucsd.edu?subject=unsubscribe>*References*: <30364f990904271547o5b4df21eifca69bf8318483f2@mail.gmail.com> <2C46D7A7-AD94-441C-AABD-269045835E3D@umich.edu> <0193A85F-03A7-4811-B912-217722A5770B@uvic.ca> <BDD722EC-3E52-48C1-829B-AD5053D51B78@umich.edu> <2B2B3D4D-462E-4654-8457-A1C4F21B2874@uvic.ca> <49F7DE9B.5050908@mira.net> <14a6419f0904290031g79f0f6aagaaaf6e9a906005b2@mail.gmail.com> <49F8060B.6070401@mira.net> <14a6419f0904290117q6c0e8432xf78fe6d1b3e9012b@mail.gmail.com> <14a6419f0904290922h34790b99o3d43d176dba1ce9d@mail.gmail.com>*Reply-to*: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>*Sender*: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu

Wolff-Michael Roth & Jennifer S. Thom University of Victoria

On 29-Apr-09, at 9:22 AM, Ng Foo Keong wrote: Is Mathematics _merely_ socially constructed, or is there something deeper and inevitable? I think this deserves a new thread, but I couldn't manage to start one. Let me try to draw out and assemble the line of discussion that spun off from the "a minus times a plus" thread. In her inaugural post to xcma, Anna Sfard about talked "rules of the mathematical game" among other things. Then Jay Lemke said:-

... I think it's important, however, to see, as Anna emphasizes, that there is a certain "arbitrariness" involved in this, or if you like it better: a freedom of choice. Yes, it's structure-and-agency all over again! Structure determines that some things fit into bigger pictures and some don't, but agency is always at work deciding which pictures, which kind of fit, which structures, etc. And behind that values, and culture, and how we feel about things.

----- Then I (Ng Foo Keong) said:-

regarding structure and agency, arbitrariness:- i think now it's time for me to pop this question that has been bugging me for some time. i am convinced that mathematics is socially constructured, but i am not so convinced that mathematics is _merely_ socially constructured. if we vary across cultures and different human activities, we might find different ways in which patterns and structure can be expressed and yet we might find commonalities / analogies. the question i am asking is: is maths just a ball game determined by some group of nerds who happen to be in power and dominate the discourse, or is there some invariant, something deeper in maths that can transcend and unite language, culture, activity .... ?

Foo Keong, NIE, Singapore ----- Then Ed Wall said:-

Ng Foo Keong As regards your question about mathematics being socially constructed, I'm not entirely sure what you mean by mathematics or what kind of evidence would convince you it wasn't. Suppose I said that there was evidence for innate subtizing.

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**References**:**[xmca] a minus times a plus***From:*Mike Cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>

**Re: [xmca] a minus times a plus***From:*Ed Wall <ewall@umich.edu>

**Re: [xmca] a minus times a plus***From:*Wolff-Michael Roth <mroth@uvic.ca>

**Re: [xmca] a minus times a plus***From:*Ed Wall <ewall@umich.edu>

**Re: [xmca] a minus times a plus***From:*Wolff-Michael Roth <mroth@uvic.ca>

**Re: [xmca] a minus times a plus***From:*Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>

**Re: [xmca] a minus times a plus***From:*Ng Foo Keong <lefouque@gmail.com>

**Re: [xmca] a minus times a plus***From:*Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>

**Re: [xmca] a minus times a plus***From:*Ng Foo Keong <lefouque@gmail.com>

**Re: [xmca] a minus times a plus***From:*Ng Foo Keong <lefouque@gmail.com>

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