Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 66, Issue 2, pp 107–110 | Cite as

Introduction The topos of meaning or the encounter between past and present

A concrete understanding of reality cannot be attained without a historical approach to it. Ilyenkov, 1982, p. 212.
  • Luis Radford
  • Fulvia Furinghetti
  • Victor Katz


Can teachers and educators take advantage of the history of mathematics to enhance the students’ understanding of mathematics? How? These and other related questions still remain without a definite answer. One of the reasons relates to the theoretical presuppositions adopted by contemporary theories of knowing and learning.

For educational theories adopting a pragmatic, empiricist or rationalist stance, knowledge formation is limited to actual experience – to the experience that we make of the world as we engage in it. Within this context, the epistemic import of the historicity of knowledge is something merely irrelevant. However, as the philosopher Immanuel Kant remarked in the eighteenth century, all attempts to derive our concepts from experience and to attribute to them a merely empirical origin are “entirely vain and useless.” (Kant 1929, p. 139). Hans-Georg Gadamer, the father of Hermeneutics, remarked that the naïve empirical posture which leads one to believe...


Mathematics Education Mathematical Thinking Foreign Culture Rationalist Stance Empirical Posture 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ecole des Sciences deUniversite LaurentienneSudburyCanada
  2. 2.Dipartimento di MatematicaUniversità di GenovaGenovaItaly
  3. 3.Department of MathematicsUniversity of the District of ColumbiaWashingtonUSA

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