# The beauty (?) of mathematical proofsCatarina Dutilh Novaes (University of Groningen)

E561, Menzies Buiding

Monash University

Clayton 3800

Australia

## Details

**Abstract**

Mathematicians often use aesthetic vocabulary to describe mathematical proofs: they can be beautiful, elegant, ugly etc. In recent years, philosophers of mathematics have been asking themselves what these descriptions in fact mean: should we take them literally, as tracking truly aesthetic properties of mathematical proofs, or are these terms being used as proxy for non-aesthetic properties, in particular epistemic properties? Starting from the idea that one of the main functions of mathematical proofs is to explain and persuade an interlocutor, I develop an account of the beauty (or ugliness) of mathematical proofs that seems to allow for a reconciliation of these apparently opposed accounts of aesthetic judgments in mathematics. I do so by discussing the role of *affective responses and emotions* in the practice of mathematical proofs, thus arguing that the aesthetic and the epistemic are intrinsically related (while not entirely coinciding) in mathematical proofs.

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