Article ID: CBB635980926

On Infinitesimals and Indefinitely Cut Wooden Sticks: A Chinese Debate on ‘Mathematical Logic’ and Russell’s Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy from 1925 (2021)


In the years following Bertrand Russell's visit in China, fragments from his work on mathematical logic and the foundations of mathematics started to enter the Chinese intellectual world. While up until 1925 Chinese intellectuals like Zhang Shenfu, Zhang Dongsun and others mainly contributed to the dissemination of general notions from Russell's logicism, epistemology and mathematical philosophy, two aspiring Chinese mathematicians, Fu Zhongsun and Zhang Bangming, introduced to Chinese readers the first Chinese translation of Russell's Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy. One year after the second edition of the book was published in 1924, Chinese intellectuals started to respond to Russell's ‘mathematical logic’ and philosophy of mathematics, as contained in the work. Consequently, in 1925 the first public debate on this topic broke out in Chinese periodicals. This article aims at providing a summary of these 1925 discussions, from criticisms of Russell's work to a general debate on ‘infinitesimals’. Through close examination of the arguments and discursive strategies used in the debate, the article tries to highlight the state of Chinese discourse on mathematical logic during the time in question, while also shedding some light on the mechanisms and strategies in the undergoing process of the adoption of Western scientific ideas.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Article Jan Vrhovski; (2021)
‘Qinghua School of Logic’: Mathematical Logic at Qinghua University in Peking, 1926–1945 (/isis/citation/CBB138107081/) unapi

Article Scott Edgar; (2020)
Hermann Cohen’s Principle of the Infinitesimal Method: A Defense (/isis/citation/CBB672281990/) unapi

Chapter Hylton, Peter; (2010)
Frege and Russell (/isis/citation/CBB001211659/) unapi

Article John Woods; (2021)
What did Frege take Russell to have proved? (/isis/citation/CBB858610340/) unapi

Book Gandon, Sébastien; (2012)
Russell's Unknown Logicism: A Study in the History and Philosophy of Mathematics (/isis/citation/CBB001201203/) unapi

Book Landini, Gregory; (2010)
Russell (/isis/citation/CBB001500071/) unapi

Article Oscar M. Esquisabel; Federico Raffo Quintana; (2021)
Fiction, possibility and impossibility: three kinds of mathematical fictions in Leibniz’s work (/isis/citation/CBB813371353/) unapi

Book Goldenbaum, Ursula; Jesseph, Douglas; (2008)
Infinitesimal Differences: Controversies between Leibniz and His Contemporaries (/isis/citation/CBB000950297/) unapi

Essay Review Klement, Kevin C.; (2007--2008)
A New Century in the Life of a Paradox (/isis/citation/CBB001567033/) unapi

Article C. D. McCoy; (2022)
The Constitution of Weyl’s Pure Infinitesimal World Geometry (/isis/citation/CBB575014368/) unapi

Article Boa, Chen; (2012)
Justification of Induction: Russell and Jin Yuelin. A Comparative Study (/isis/citation/CBB001211001/) unapi

Essay Review Stevens, Graham; (2012)
The Scope of Logical Atomism (/isis/citation/CBB001500070/) unapi

Book Guay, Alexandre; (2012)
Autour des “Principia Mathematica” de Russell et Whitehead (/isis/citation/CBB001211002/) unapi

Article Edyta Dembińska; Krzysztof Rutkowski; (2021)
The Beginnings of Psychoanalysis in Poland Before the First World War (/isis/citation/CBB000416426/) unapi

Chapter Walter A. Carnielli; Marcelo E. Coniglio; Abilio Rodrigues; (2015)
Contradictions in Reasoning: An Evil or a Blessing? (/isis/citation/CBB202764353/) unapi

Authors & Contributors
Grattan-Guinness, Ivor
Dembińska, Edyta
Rutkowski, Krzysztof
Goldenbaum, Ursula
Jesseph, Douglas Michael
Gandon, Sébastien
History and Philosophy of Logic
Psychoanalysis and History
Metascience: An International Review Journal for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science
The Review of Modern Logic
French Historical Studies
Princeton University Press
Walter de Gruyter
Palgrave Macmillan
Éd. universitaires de Dijon
Cambridge University Press
Philosophy of mathematics
Knowledge circulation
Controversies and disputes
Russell, Bertrand Arthur William
Cantor, Georg Ferdinand Ludwig
Gödel, Kurt
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von
Whitehead, Alfred North
Frege, Gottlob
Great Britain
20th century, early
19th century
20th century, late
20th century
17th century
21st century
Tsinghua University

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment