FOM: What is mathematics, really?, (fwd)

Reuben Hersh rhersh at
Thu Jan 15 10:28:11 EST 1998

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 1998 08:20:19 -0700 (MST)
From: Reuben Hersh <rhersh at>
To: simpson at
Cc: owner-fom at
Subject: Re: FOM: What is mathematics, really?, (fwd)

Professor Simpson explained his quotation from Rothstein's NY Times
misreview of my book by saying I had already referred to it in an
earlier posting.  In fact, the reference was Stephne Maurer's.  Maurer
suspected I might consider it  unfair, and asked for my reaction, which
I gave.   All this was posted before Simpson quoted Rothstein.

Reuben Hersh

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 1997 17:22:49 -0700 (MST)
From: Reuben Hersh <rhersh at>
To: Stephen B Maurer <smaurer1 at>
Subject: Re: FOM: What is mathematics, really?, 

On Mon, 22 Dec 1997, Stephen B Maurer wrote:

> Your message (forwarded to math history list) prompts me to ask you if you
> think the discussion of your book in the New York Times a few days ago
> (front page of the second section, as I recall) was a fair one, that is,
> did they get your point or did they misrepresent you?  I thought it was a
> decent enough article for the general press, but I know full well how
> reporters, even at the Times, can grossly misunderstand what mathematicians
> are trying to tell them.
> Steve Maurer
Thank you for asking.  Yes, I think it misrepresented me.  I am pretty
sure Mr. Rothstein looked for something political, found it in chapter
13, and read nothing else.  His linking me to postmodernism was
utterly gratuitous.  He brought up multiculturalism twice, a word
I never used in the book.  He didn't see that there was a philosohical
question that the the book was all about, he didn't see the defects
of standard philosophical treatments of math which I was proposing to 
correct.  He said implicitly that there's nothing here but sleazy politics.

He called my title "earnest", meaning he didn't even look at the first
few pages, where I explain why the "really."

I don't consider this a book review.  It's Mr. Rothstein blowing
off steam about his political concerns, and misusing my book to do so.

Reuben Hersh> 

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