FOM: social construction?

Charles Silver csilver at
Sun Mar 22 15:38:40 EST 1998

Lincoln Wallen said:
> The reconstructed task of the anthropologist is to articulate these so
> called ethno-methods of (local) investigation.
> In these terms I understand Silver to be agreeing with Hersh that we
> need to articulate the ethno-methods used by mathematicians to create
> and sustain mathematics. 

	I want to make a few distinctions.  Suppose we didn't understand
the game of baseball and tried to analyze it using various
"ethno-methods".  I don't think we would come to the conclusion that the
game of baseball is primarily one that uses ethno-methods similar to those
we used in our analysis.  (They use a bat, ball, and glove, for example. 
They run around the bases, and so on.)  And, I think the methods employed
by players, coaches, fans, etc. for "sustaining" (the institution of) 
baseball would be different yet.  Here, I'm trying to make a distinction
between anthropologists' methods used in studying mathematics and the
methods employed by practicing mathematicians.  (I think a third batch of
methods would be needed to preserve the institution of mathematics, though
I think there would be some overlap here since teaching others how to do
math is similar to just plain doing math.) 

Charlie Silver

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