Dear friends and colleagues,
Continuing the effort to make books, which were out-of-print for quite while, anew available, I have the pleasure to announce a new edition of my book “The philosophic-mathematical manuscripts of Karl Marx on differential calculus: An introduction” both in printed paperback format and as free downloadable eBook (http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/pgerdes).
In March 1983 the Eduardo Mondlane University organized a seminar on the then significance of Karl Marx’s works to celebrate the centennial of his death. It took place in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. I had the honor to present, in the amphitheater of the Faculty of Medicine in the city center, some reflections of Karl Marx about mathematics, in particular, his considerations about and preoccupations with the foundations of differential calculus. My presentation included an introduction to the reasons for and contents, methods, and meaning of the mathematical manuscripts of Marx. In the same year, the journal TLANU, published by the Department of Mathematics and Physics of the Eduardo Mondlane University, published an extended version of my lecture as a book, entitled “Karl Marx: Arrancar o véu misterioso à matemática.” In that version I also included a reflection on “negation of the negation” in mathematics education.
The book generated interest both in Mozambique and elsewhere. Two years later, the Marxist Educational Press published, in the USA, an English-language edition, based on the translation by Beatrice Lumpkin.
Already more than thirty years have passed. During these years I have dedicated my research mostly to a field nowadays called ethnomathematics, the study of the development of mathematical and mathematic-educational ideas and practices in diverse cultural, social, political and historical contexts. One may ask if there exists some relationship between ethnomathematics and the reflection on the mathematical manuscripts of Karl Marx. An answer may be found in the words of Arthur B. Powell and Marilyn Frankenstein in their book “Ethnomathematics: Challenging Eurocentrism in Mathematics Education” (1997). In the section concerning interconnections between culture and mathematical knowledge, they include the paper “Marx and Mathematics” (1948) by Dirk Struik (1894-2000). In their introduction to Struik’s paper, they state that Marx tried to analyze differential calculus as rooted in a cultural praxis – the conceptual and mathematical description of dynamics, of motion and of change – in the light of another cultural construction – dialectics – that was part of the philosophical and ideological perspective of a identifiable cultural group (Powell & Frankenstein, 1997, p. 124). The same geometer and historian Struik wrote, already 104 years old, the foreword to the English language edition of my book “Ethnogeometry: Awakening of Geometrical Thought in Early Culture,” where he stresses my dynamic approximation of the historic process of acquiring mathematical ideas, in general, and geometric ideas, in particular.
More than thirty years have passed since the first edition of this book. The book belongs to my youth; today I would have written it most probably in a different way… Both the global historic context changed significantly as I matured in my research, reflections, and experiences. I did not try to rewrite the book, as there are other, more urgent challenges. The new edition of the book consists of the reproduction of the translation of 1985. I introduced some minor changes to the translation. The epilogue has been shortened. Some bibliographic references have been added.
The book presents an introduction to the philosophic-mathematical manuscripts of Karl Marx. It contains the following chapters: (1) Marx the Mathematician?; (2) Why Did Marx Study Mathematics?; (3) Still So Little Known?; (4) Manuscripts: Contents and background; (5) The dialectical method of Marx; (6) The significance of the “Mathematical Manuscripts;” (7) Source of inspiration; Bibliography. 120 pp.
Acting Secretary General & Vice-President for Southern Africa, African Academy of Sciences;
Former Chairman, African Mathematical Union Commission for the History of Mathematics in Africa (1986-2013);
President, International Studygroup for Ethnomathematics;
Former Rector / President, Pedagogical University, Mozambique (1989-1996);
Senior Advisor for Research and Quality, ISTEG-University, Boane, Mozambique
Postal adress: C.P. 915, Maputo, Mozambique
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