Dissertation Abstract




The Rhetorical Dimension Of Mathematics


Mark D. Tenney


Degree:           D.A.

Year:             2001

Pages:            00270

Institution:      State University of New York at Albany; 0668

Advisor:          Adviser Francois Cooren


Source:           DAI, 62, no. 04A (2001): p. 1398

Standard No:      ISBN:             0-493-22617-6


The objective of my study is to explore the rhetorical dimension of mathematics. I claim that the rhetoric of mathematics resides in the way individuals enlist the cooperation of others in the process of understanding mathematical ideas and the way individuals resist others' depictions of such ideas. To show this, I examine the strategies that individuals use in making mathematics accessible and non-technical. In particular, I focus on rhetorical strategies that are developed in the theories of Kenneth Burke, George Campbell, Jonathan D. Culler, Bruno Latour, Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, Charles Sanders Peirce, Chaim Perelman, and George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Based on my review of the literature, I develop a theoretical framework for my method of analyzing the rhetoric of mathematics. In the theoretical framework, I establish the coherence of the various theories from which I draw. Then, as case studies, I analyze two published debates. One debate takes place between a mathematician (Alain Connes) and a neuro-biologist (Jean-Pierre Changeux), the other between two mathematicians (Otto Hölder and Hermann Weyl). My findings include the following: By closely examining the discursive strategies used by individuals who discuss mathematical ideas, we can unveil the rhetorical dimension of the mathematics at hand as well as determine each interlocutor's worldview of mathematics. Furthermore, an understanding of the rhetoric of mathematics equips us with strategies for optimizing our attempt to convince a given audience of a particular

mathematical idea.



Descriptor:       MATHEMATICS

Accession No:     AAI3012359

Provider:        OCLC

Database:         Dissertations