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Mathematics, Mathematicians, and Desire

Resource type
Thesis type
(Dissertation) Ph.D.
Date created
This thesis is about mapping the landscape of engagement with mathematics, including elucidating aspects of who we are, as human beings, when we do mathematics and of what mathematics calls us to do if we are to engage with it. Using the concept of desire in the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan and the forms of desire as elucidated by the Lacanian theorist, Mark Bracher, I seek to find out what the mathematical encounter takes (the demands and costs) and what it gives (the offers and rewards). My central theme is that the mathematical experience is impelled and sustained by desire which takes various forms in the involvement with mathematics. I explore the construct of desire as it relates to the notions of the subject, subjectivity, and the Other of mathematics and mathematicians. Drawing on two sources, written accounts (autobiographical and biographical) of mathematical journeys and oral accounts from interviews I conducted with practising mathematicians, I discern the mathematical subject, the one who we are when we confront the discipline of mathematics, and I show how our involvement with mathematics turns on desire. I further show the importance of this kind of inquiry in building awareness of the forces that shape the cultural endeavour that is the teaching and learning of mathematics.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Sinclair, Nathalie
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etd8462_VRoodalPersad.pdf 2.21 MB

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