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)

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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.

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Authors & Contributors
Grattan-Guinness, Ivor
Dembińska, Edyta
Rutkowski, Krzysztof
Goldenbaum, Ursula
Jesseph, Douglas Michael
Gandon, Sébastien
Journals
History and Philosophy of Logic
HOPOS
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
Publishers
Princeton University Press
Walter de Gruyter
Palgrave Macmillan
Éd. universitaires de Dijon
Cambridge University Press
Routledge
Concepts
Logic
Mathematics
Philosophy of mathematics
Knowledge circulation
Controversies and disputes
Infinitesimals
People
Russell, Bertrand Arthur William
Cantor, Georg Ferdinand Ludwig
Gödel, Kurt
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von
Whitehead, Alfred North
Frege, Gottlob
Places
Great Britain
China
France
Poland
England
Germany
Times
20th century, early
19th century
20th century, late
20th century
17th century
21st century
Institutions
Tsinghua University
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