Mathematics between the Sciences and the Humanities

The knowledge culture of “mathematics” and its position in the system of academic disciplines was the focus of the interdisciplinary workshop to which scholars from the departments of philosophy and mathematics had invited from 6 to 8 October 2008. Mathematics as a discipline is in a peculiar position in the system of disciplines: It cannot be strictly categorized as science because its methods are not based on empirical research. Mathematics is also not a clear-cut humanities discipline since it is neither concerned with texts nor with the human being and his or her cultural achievements. Nevertheless, mathematics are closely related to the sciences. As the organizers of the workshop explain: “Mathematics provide the most powerful terminological equipment. Also, scientific and mathematical findings lead to productive insights in the other discipline.”

Mathematik zwischen Natur- und Geisteswissenschaften Interdisziplinärer und internationaler Workshop

As a discipline of the humanities, the field of mathematics can be considered a creative cultural achievement since it is only accountable to human thinking. The workshop was initiated by Felix Mühlhölzer, Professor of Philosophy, Ulrich Stuhler, Professor of Mathematics, and Yuri Tschinkel, Professor of Mathematics at New York University. The participants discussed the consequences of the discipline’s in-between position for the interplay of the disciplines and for mathematics with Göttingen scholars and guests from various disciplines from all over Germany and abroad.