Science and an African Logic

Science and an African Logic

by Helen Verran
     
 

ISBN-10: 0226853896

ISBN-13: 9780226853895

Pub. Date: 12/28/2001

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Does 2 + 2 = 4? Ask almost anyone and they will unequivocally answer yes. A basic equation such as this seems the very definition of certainty, but is it?

In this captivating book, Helen Verran addresses precisely that question by looking at how science, mathematics, and logic come to life in Yoruba primary schools. Drawing on her experience as a teacher in

Overview

Does 2 + 2 = 4? Ask almost anyone and they will unequivocally answer yes. A basic equation such as this seems the very definition of certainty, but is it?

In this captivating book, Helen Verran addresses precisely that question by looking at how science, mathematics, and logic come to life in Yoruba primary schools. Drawing on her experience as a teacher in Nigeria, Verran describes how she went from the radical conclusion that logic and math are culturally relative, to determining what Westerners find so disconcerting about Yoruba logic, to a new understanding of all generalizing logic. She reveals that in contrast to the one-to-many model found in Western number systems, Yoruba thinking operates by figuring things as wholes and their parts. Quantity is not absolute but always relational. Certainty is derived not from abstract logic, but from cultural practices and associations.

A powerful story of how one woman's investigation in this everday situation led to extraordinary conclusions about the nature of numbers, generalization, and certainty, this book will be a signal contribution to philosophy, anthropology of science, and education.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226853895
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
12/28/2001
Edition description:
1
Pages:
285
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsvii
Part 1Introduction
Chapter 1Disconcertment1
Chapter 2Toward Generative Critique21
Part 2Numbering
Chapter 3A Comparative Study of Yoruba and English Number Systems51
Chapter 4Decomposing Displays of Numbers71
Chapter 5Toward Telling the Social Lives of Numbers92
Part 3Generalizing
Chapter 6Learning to Apply Numbers to Nature123
Chapter 7Decomposing Generalizing as "Finding Abstract Objects"143
Chapter 8Toward Generalization as Transition156
Part 4Certainty
Chapter 9Two Consistent Logics of Numbering177
Chapter 10Decomposing Predicating-Designating as Representing206
Chapter 11Embodied Certainty and Predicating-Designating220
Notes239
References265
Index275

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