Neuron-Z, philosophy of the mind and symptom

Baldino, R. R. (2019). Neurone-Z, philosophy of mind and symptom. Philosophy of Mathematics Education Journal, n. 35 (Dec. 2019).

Today, a desperate effort to find an accurate, precise, valid and reliable evaluation measurement relies on brain science research and hopes. Almost twenty years ago, in MES-2, one of us (Baldino, 2000), presented a parody, announcing that the neuron responsible for mathematics had been found; it was called neuron-z. In the presentation, the audience was captivated for fifteen minutes with the consequences of such a marvelous ‘scientific’ discovery.

Surprisingly, today, neuron-z has become a true object of research in brain science; they are calling it the “number neuron”, of course without reference to our old paper. Some of the consequences that we offered at that time as mere irony, are now being seriously considered (Butterworth, 2017; Amalric & Dehaene, 2017; Freitas, 2017). The MES‑2 satire has assumed the form of a theory. Pais (2019) alerts us to the dangers of taking this new science at face-value.

New references

Amalric, M., & Dehaene, S. (2017). Cortical circuits for mathematical knowledge: evidence for a major subdivision within the brain’s semantic networks. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

Butterworth B. (2017). The implications for education of an innate numerosity-processing mechanism. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

De Freitas, E. (2017). Biosocial becomings: Rethinking the biopolitics of mathematics education research. In A. Chronaki (Ed.), Proceedings of the Ninth International Mathematics Education and Society Conference. Greece, Volos: University of Thessaly Press.

De Freitas, E. (2018). The biosocial subject: sensor technologies and worldly sensibility. Discourse, 39(2), 292-308.

De Freitas, E. & Sinclair, N. (2013). New materialist ontologies in mathematics education: the body in/of mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 83(3), 453-470.

De Freitas, E. & Sinclair, N. (2014). Mathematics and the body: Material entanglements in the mathematics classroom. New York: Cambridge University Press.

De Freitas, E. & Sinclair, N. (2016). The cognitive labour of mathematics dis/ability: Neurocognitive approaches to number sense. International Journal of Educational Research, 79, 222—230.

Pais, A. (2019). Mathematics, capitalism and biosocial research. Educational Studies in Mathematics, Volume 101, Issue 3, pp 373–386.

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