Connecting Humans to Equations pp 121-132 | Cite as

# Mathematics as Grammar

## Abstract

This chapter addresses Wittgenstein’s interpretation of mathematics, although not in the form expressed in the *Tractatus*, but as it later become elaborated. Wittgenstein emphasises the profound social component in mathematical constructions. He interprets mathematics as basically a rule-following system, and he sees mathematical rules as being similar to grammatical rules. Rule-following can be interpreted as a social practice, or as a social construction.

As an alternative to the theory of language and mathematics as presented in *Tractatus*, the later Wittgenstein does not propound another theory of the same universal scope. In his opinion, no universal theory about language can be formulated. His central term in this clarification is “language game.” There are many different kind of games: football, handball, tennis, badminton, draughts, chess, bingo … But there is no essence underlying the fact that we call them games. Wittgenstein’s point is that it is a hopeless to try to provide a universal definition of “game.” And further: what can be said about “game” also applies to “mathematics.”. It is hopeless to try to answer the question: “What is mathematics?”

## Keywords

Grammar Language game Mathematics as calculations Mathematics as measure Mathematics as rule-following Mathematics as social practice## References

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