Spiritual Aspirations Connected with Mathematics

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This study examines the individual experience of mathematics among undergraduate and graduate students and how they were drawn into mathematics in their high school and undergraduate years. The book is the product of a two-year long interview project of mathematics students, exploring how they became involved in mathematics and found satisfaction and fulfillment in their development.


“Why does someone decide to embrace a field of study and a career? This is one of the most intriguing questions in cognition. Klaus G. Witz faces the question focusing on Mathematics.” - Ubiratan D’Ambrosio, Emeritus Professor, Universidade Estadual de Campinas

"The reader of Witz’s book can look forward to an intriguing adventure in mostly charted, rarely illuminated woods, under the guidance of its author, whose scholarship and sensitivity provide us with a powerful beacon to help shed light on our way. What a remarkable and important way it is.” - Kenneth J. Travers, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Table of Contents

Foreword by Ubiratan D’Ambrosio
Foreword by Kenneth J. Travers
Foreword by Jerry Uhl
Introduction: The Mystery of Mathematics as Seen in the Experience of Undergraduates
1 Deeper Involvement in Mathematics
2 An Interview Project: Glimpsing Students’ Experience and Getting Perspective
3 Teacher Education Students Who Are “Finding Fulfillment”
4 Coming into a New World: Elizabeth
5 Frederick: “The Form in Every Pattern ...”
6 Janos: “The Ability to Bring Beauty to the World”
7 Jack: “I’m Not Sure How ... It’s Almost Beautiful to Me”
8 A New “Inner Understanding,” “Inner Vision” of Mathematics
9 Reflections
Appendix A - Research in Subjective Experience
Appendix B Topology of Surfaces, Knot Theory (Chapter Four)
Appendix C Dynamical Systems (Chapter Five)
Appendix D What is “Abstract Algebra?” (Chapter Six)
Appendix E “Awakenings,” “Encounters,” “Crystallizing Experiences” (Chapter Eight)

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