CFP: Synthese Special Issue “Mathematical Cognition and Enculturation”

Submission deadline: February 1, 2018

Topic areas


Much theorizing about cognition in fields such as philosophy, cognitive science, and biology, still proceeds on the assumption that we are born with our primary cognitive faculties intact, and that they simply need to mature, or be fine-tuned by learning mechanisms. Alternatively, a growing number of thinkers are aligning themselves to the view that processes of enculturation transform our basic biological faculties. However, the enculturation perspective transcends the crude nature vs. nurture dichotomy, as it focuses precisely on how the human biological endowment both constrains and allows for specific processes of enculturation to take place.

With this special issue, we hope to advance our understanding of mathematical cognition by exploring the perspective of enculturation. Conversely, we also hope to investigate the merits, reach and limits of the enculturation perspective by means of detailed analyses of a specific but important case study: mathematical cognition. As a guiding thread, we focus on enculturation as characterized in R. Menary’s recent paper ‘Mathematical cognition: a case of enculturation’ (Open MIND 2015). Submissions are invited from a wide variety of approaches in philosophy of mathematics, including views critical of the concept of enculturation with respect to mathematics.

Topics for submission include, among others:

  • The cognitive and enculturated basis of numerals
  • Is arithmetical knowledge enculturated?
  • The importance of non-mathematical cultures for the question of enculturation
  • Variation in mathematical cultures
  • Platonism and enculturation
  • The enculturated approach to geometry
  • Mathematical proofs and enculturation
  • How to study enculturation in mathematics empirically?
  • Is there a difference between lower and higher level mathematics in terms of enculturation?
  • Social perspectives on mathematical practice

For further information, please contact the guest editors:

Catarina Dutilh Novaes, University of Groningen (

Markus Pantsar, University of Helsinki (

How to submit: papers must be submitted through the Synthese Editorial Manager, by selecting the Special Issue ‘Mathematical cognition and enculturation’ (acronym ‘MathCogEncul’). All submissions will be thoroughly peer-reviewed according to the usual Synthese standards (including double-anonymity),

The deadline for submissions is February 1st 2018.

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