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Intuition in Mathematics: a Perceptive Experience

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This study applied a method of assisted introspection to investigate the phenomenology of mathematical intuition arousal. The aim was to propose an essential structure for the intuitive experience of mathematics. To achieve an intersubjective comparison of different experiences, several contemporary mathematicians were interviewed in accordance with the elicitation interview method in order to collect pinpoint experiential descriptions. Data collection and analysis was then performed using steps similar to those outlined in the descriptive phenomenological method that led to a generic structure that accounts for the intuition surge in the experience of mathematics which was found to have four irreducible structural moments. The interdependence of these moments shows that a perceptualist view of intuition in mathematics, as defended by Chudnoff (Chudnoff, 2014), is relevant to the characterization of mathematical intuition. The philosophical consequences of this generic structure and its essential features are discussed in accordance with Husserl’s philosophy of ideal objects and theory of intuition.

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Philosophy of Science LisbonPortugal


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