[FOM] FOM James Shaw on philosophy of mathematics

Colin McLarty colin.mclarty at case.edu
Tue Jun 3 13:20:49 EDT 2008

----- Original Message -----
>From  	Thomas Forster <T.Forster at dpmms.cam.ac.uk>
Date  	Mon, 2 Jun 2008 12:08:25 +0100 (BST)
To  	fom at cs.nyu.edu, philos-l at liverpool.ac.uk
Cc  	"P. Bursill-Hall" <P.Bursill-Hall at dpmms.cam.ac.uk>
Subject  	[FOM] James Shaw on philosophy of mathematics

>I have just picked up a copy of
>    Lectures on the Philosophy of Mathematics
> by one James Byrnie Shaw.  Open Court 1918. 
>It occurred to me to wonder that it is only recently
>that people starting publishing books with names like this. 
>is this one perhaps the first?

W.M. Gillespie published a book titled "Philosophy of Mathematics" in
1851, a translated excerpt from Comte's Cours de Philosophie Positive. 
I do not know whether Comte used any such title for any part of his Cours. 

I suspect that history would show two related reasons why these titles
start to appear:  First is the professorialization of philosophy, which
really only began in Germany in the 1700s and only became really serious
in the 1800s.  So in the 1800s you started to get specialized,
professional, professorial "philosophies of" various things.  But the
specific professor who most kicked this off was Hegel who, contrary to
his reputation in some quarters today, paid enormous attention to the
particulars of the sciences in his time and insisted they should have
systematic comprehensive philosophical treatments *besides* the
practical treatment of them by scientists.  

Notably his "Philosophy of Nature" in his Encyclopedia of Philosophical
Sciences (several successively larger editions) has a substantial
section on mathematics.  Comte would disagree with him, but precisely
so!  Philosophers attacking Hegel could and would attack him (among
other ways) by attacking him on specific sciences, as Comte would on

For Kant the philosophy of mathematics was still an aspect of a
philosophical account of perception.  For Hegel, mathematics per se has
a philosophical aspect.

best, Colin



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