Abstract / Synopsis
Historians of mathematics, by definition, look at mathematics of the past. But mathematicians, too, often look at mathematics of the past; mathematicians of the past themselves often looked very closely at mathematics of their own past. Is their relationship to the past the same as that of the historians? Is every view of the past an historical view? Indeed, is every historical view historical in the same way? Or is it possible that there are different kinds of relationships to the mathematics of the past? This paper will suggest that there are in fact a variety of such relationships. It will try to catalog some of these, without judgment as to whether they are necessarily correct or legitimate. It will also raise the question as to whether mathematics educators interested in the history mathematics have their own distinct relationship with the mathematics of the past or are aligned with one type or another.
Michael N. Fried, "Ways of Relating to the Mathematics of the Past," Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Volume 8 Issue 1 (January 2018), pages 3-23. DOI: 10.5642/jhummath.201801.03. Available at: https://scholarship.claremont.edu/jhm/vol8/iss1/3