Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Embodied Mathematics": Review of Where Mathematics Comes From: How the Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics into Being, by George Lakoff and Rafael E. Nunez. Reviewed by Joseph Auslander. American Scientist, July-August 2001.

The book, by a linguist and a psychologist, undertakes to launch the discipline of the cognitive science of mathematics and discusses "results about the human conceptual system that makes mathematical ideas possible." Auslander, a mathematician, notes where the authors have succeeded in presenting their thesis, but finds significant flaws in the mathematics presented. The highest praise is reserved for two chapters that present theories on mathematics and the human brain and its relation to human culture. "These two chapters, which conclude with an elegant 'Portrait of Mathematics', constitute a major contribution to the philosophy of mathematics."

--- Annette Emerson