Science and an African Logic

Science and an African Logic

by Helen Verran
     
 


Does 2 + 2 = 4? Ask almost anyone and the answer will be an unequivocal yes. A basic equation such as this seems the very definition of certainty, but how is this so?

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

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Overview


Does 2 + 2 = 4? Ask almost anyone and the answer will be an unequivocal yes. A basic equation such as this seems the very definition of certainty, but how is this so?

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 and 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 derives not from abstract logic, but from cultural practice and association.

A powerful story of how one woman's investigation into an everyday African 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.

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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

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

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