Abstract / Synopsis

Recent attempts at defining mathematical beauty fall roughly into two schools of thought. One takes its starting point in the subjective experience of the mathematician and characterises mathematical beauty in cognitive terms. The other seeks to reduce beauty to objective notions such as truth, symmetry, or simplicity. This second approach is popular among analytic philosophers, who are committed to seeing mathematics and science as prototypically rational enterprises. I criticise this stance on the grounds that this commitment makes its supporters approach beauty in mathematics not with a genuine desire to sympathetically understand it, but with the preconceived goal of explaining it away and playing it down.



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