Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

From the Languages of Art to mathematical languages, and back again

Caroline Jullien


Mathematics stand in a privileged relationship with aesthetics: a relationship that follows two main directions. The first concerns the introduction of mathematical considerations into aesthetic discourse. For instance, it is common to mention the mathematical architecture of certain artistic productions. The second leads from aesthetics to mathematics. In this case, the question is that of the role and meaning that aesthetic considerations may assume in mathematics. It is indeed a widely held view among mathematicians, of whatever socio-historical context, not only to see their discipline as presenting a strong aesthetic dimension, but also to consider that this dimension plays a fundamental role in the process of developing and understanding mathematics. The main ambition of this paper is to show how Nelson Goodman’s aesthetics can be used to justify this point of view and to propose a thesis concerning the aesthetic functioning of mathematics. This first result allows to resituate Goodman’s aesthetics within a very classical tradition that will be described. Finally, the underlying ambition is to show the keys provided by Goodman’s theory for the philosophy of mathematics.

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