Guest Editor’s Notes

  • Nadia Kennedy


Introduction: In this special issue centered on the theme of Philosophical
Inquiry in the Learning and Teaching of Mathematics, our contributing authors – philosophers of education and mathematics education researchers – explore the role of philosophical dialogue and inquiry and its potential for transforming the math classroom. To start us off, Stefano Oliverio traces the deep, historically grounded solidarity between math and philosophy, and calls for re-thinking and (re-) harmonizing this relationship in the mathematics classroom. Contrary to the ancient Platonic dictum that math is a “doorway” to philosophy, he suggests the opposite: that philosophical discussion in math classes may lead to an enriched engagement with mathematical practice itself. Such an engagement is ultimately ethical, as it allows, in his words, individuals to follow their own inquiries and to find “the appropriate place” for math in their own lifeworlds. Then John Roemischer points out that mathematics is often taught as “nonproblematic,” but that a discipline can never be such. The role of philosophical inquiry, he argues, is “not to discover something of which until now we have been ignorant,” but to see conceptual aspects and assumptions that have not been unearthed, and thus “to come to know it [mathematics] in a different and better way.” Taking this idea a step further, Nataly Chesky argues for the use of philosophical discourse as a reflective meta-language, which can be utilized to unearth the normative assumptions that inform the way we conceptualize mathematics. Then Daniel Fisherman discusses the potential of philosophical dialogue for transforming students’ negative attitudes towards mathematics, through forging personally meaningful connections between math and everyday experience.