Didactics and history of mathematics: Knowledge and self-knowledge

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The basic assumption of this paper is that mathematics and history of mathematics are both forms of knowledge and, therefore, represent different ways of knowing. This was also the basic assumption of Fried (2001) who maintained that these ways of knowing imply different conceptual and methodological commitments, which, in turn, lead to a conflict between the commitments of mathematics education and history of mathematics. But that conclusion was far too peremptory. The present paper, by contrast, takes the position, relying in part on Saussurean semiotics, that the historian's and working mathematician's ways of knowing are complementary. Recognizing this fact, it is argued, brings us to a deeper understanding of ourselves as creatures that do mathematics. This understanding, which is a kind of mathematical self-knowledge, is then proposed as an alternative commitment for mathematics education. In light of that commitment, history of mathematics assumes an essential role in mathematics education both as a subject and as a mediator between the aforementioned ways of knowing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-223
Number of pages21
JournalEducational Studies in Mathematics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2007


  • Conflicting and complementary epistemologies
  • Diachrony
  • Mathematical self-knowledge
  • Synchrony

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics (all)
  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Didactics and history of mathematics: Knowledge and self-knowledge'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this