Oct 13, 2012

The Relevance of Kant’s Theory of Knowledge to Contemporary Foundation of Mathematics

By Marsigit

The relevance of Kant’s theory of knowledge to the contemporary foundation of mathematics can be traced from the notions of contemporary writers. Jørgensen, K.F.(2006) admits that a philosophy of mathematics must square with contemporary mathematics as it is carried out by actual mathematicians.

This leads him to define a very general notion of constructability of mathematics on the basis of a generalized understanding of Kant's theory of schema. Jørgensen, K.F. further states that Kant’s theory of schematism should be taken seriously in order to understand his Critique. It was science which Kant wanted to provide a foundation for. He says that one should take schematism to be a very central feature of Kant's theory of knowledge.
Meanwhile, Hanna, R. insists that Kant offers an account of human rationality which is essentially oriented towards judgment. According to her, Kant also offers an account of the nature of judgment, the nature of logic, and the nature of the various irreducibly different kinds of judgments, that are essentially oriented towards the anthropocentric empirical referential meaningfulness and truth of the proposition. Further, Hanna, R. indicates that the rest of Kant's theory of judgment is then thoroughly cognitive and non-reductive. In Kant , propositions are systematically built up out of directly referential terms (intuitions) and attributive or descriptive terms (concepts), by means of unifying acts of our innate spontaneous cognitive faculties. This unification is based on pure logical constraints and under a higher-order unity imposed by our faculty for rational self-consciousness. Furthermore all of this is consistently combined by Kant with non-conceptualism about intuition, which entails that judgmental rationality has a pre-rational or proto-rational cognitive grounding in more basic non-conceptual cognitive capacities that we share with various non-human animals. In these ways, Hanna, R. concludes that Kant’s theory of knowledge is the inherent philosophical interest, contemporary relevance, and defensibility remain essentially intact no matter what one may ultimately think about his controversial metaphysics of transcendental idealism.
Meanwhile, Hers R. insists that at the bottom tortoise of Kant’s synthetic a priori lies intuition. In the sense of contemporary foundation of mathematics, Hers R. notifies that in providing truth and certainty in mathematics Hilbert implicitly referred Kant. He. pointed out that, like Hilbert, Brouwer was sure that mathematics had to be established on a sound and firm foundation in which mathematics must start from the intuitively given. The name intuitionism displays its descent from Kant’s intuitionist theory of mathematical knowledge. Brouwer follows Kant in saying that mathematics is founded on intuitive truths. As it was learned that Kant though geometry is based on space intuition, and arithmetic on time intuition, that made both geometry and arithmetic “synthetic a priori”. About geometry, Frege agrees with Kant that it is synthetic intuition. Furthermore, Hers R. indicates that all contemporary standard philosophical viewpoints rely on some notions of intuition; and consideration of intuition as actually experienced leads to a notion that is difficult and complex but not inexplicable. Therefore, Hers R suggests that a realistic analysis of mathematical intuition should be a central goal of the philosophy of mathematics.
In the sense of very contemporary practical and technical mathematics works Polya G in Hers R. states:
Finished mathematics presented in a finished form appears as purely demonstrative, consisting of proofs only. Yet mathematics in the making resembles any other human knowledge in the making. You have to guess a mathematical theorem before you prove it; you have to have the idea of the proof before you carry through the details. You have to combine observations and follow analogies; you have to try and try again.

The writer of this dissertation perceives that we may examine above notions in the frame work of Kant’s theory of knowledge to prove that it is relevant to the current practice of mathematics. We found some related key words to Kant’s notions e.g. “presented”, “appears”, “human knowledge”, ”observation” and “analogies”. We may use Kant’s notions to examine contemporary practice of mathematics e.g. by reflecting metaphorical power of the “myth” of the foundation of contemporary mathematics. Hers R. listed the following myth: 1) there is only one mathematics- indivisible now and forever, 2) the mathematics we know is the only mathematics there can be, 3) mathematics has a rigorous method which yields absolutely certain conclusion, 4) mathematical truth is the same for everyone.
Meanwhile, Mrozek, J. (2004) in “The Problems of Understanding Mathematics” attempts to explain contemporary the structure of the process of understanding mathematical objects such as notions, definitions, theorems, or mathematical theories. Mrozek, J. distinguishes three basic planes on which the process of understanding mathematics takes place: first, understanding the meaning of notions and terms existing in mathematical considerations i.e. mathematician must have the knowledge of what the given symbols mean and what the corresponding notions denote; second, understanding concerns the structure of the object of understanding wherein it is the sense of the sequences of the applied notions and terms that is important; and third, understanding the 'role' of the object of understanding - consists in fixing the sense of the object of understanding in the context of a greater entity - i.e., it is an investigation of the background of the problem. Mrozek, J. sums up that understanding mathematics, to be sufficiently comprehensive, should take into account at least three other connected considerations - historical, methodological and philosophical - as ignoring them results in a superficial and incomplete understanding of mathematics.
Furthermore, Mrozek, J. recommends that contemporary practice in mathematics could investigate properly, un-dogmatically and non-arbitrarily the classical problems of philosophy of mathematics as it was elaborated in Kant’s theory of knowledge. According to him, it implies that teaching mathematics should not consist only in inculcating abstract formulas and conducting formalized considerations; we can not learn mathematics without its thorough understanding. Mrozek, J. sums up that in the process of teaching mathematics, we should take into account both the history and philosophy (with methodology) of mathematics i.e. theory of knowledge and epistemological foundation of mathematics, since neglecting them makes the understanding of mathematics superficial and incomplete.


Jørgensen, K.F., 2006, “Philosophy of Mathematics” Retrieved 2006
2Hanna, R., 2004, “Kant's Theory of Judgment”, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Retrieved 2004,
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.
6 Hersh, R., 1997, “What is Mathematics, Really?”, London: Jonathan Cape, p.162
7 Ibid.p.162
8 Ibid. p.162
9 In Hersh, R., 1997, “What is Mathematics, Really?”, London: Jonathan Cape, p.162
10 Ibid. p. 216
11Ibid. p.216
12Mrozek, J.,2004, “The Problems of Understanding Mathematics” University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland. Retieved 2004
13 Ibid.

1 comment:

  1. Saepul Watan
    S2 P.Mat Kelas C 2016

    Bismilahir rahmaanir rahiim..
    Assalamualaikum wr..wb...

    Yang dipaparkan dalam tulisan ini adalah bagaimana teori pengetahuan Kant menjadi landasan dalam filsafat matematika. Hal ini ditegaskan oleh Hanna, R. Yang menyimpulkan bahwa teori pengetahuan Kant adalah kepentingan filosofis yang melekat, relevansi kontemporer, dan pertahanan tetap yang dasarnya utuh tidak peduli apa yang mungkin, akhirnya berpikir tentang metafisika kontroversial idealisme transendental.