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Numbers, Language, and the Human Mind

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  • Date Published: December 2004
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9780511056727

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About the Authors
  • What constitutes our concept of numbers and makes it possible for us to work with them the way we do? Which mental faculties contribute to our grasp? What qualities do we share with other species, and which ones are specific to us? This book addresses these questions to reveal that language plays a crucial role in the development of systematic number concepts. It analyzes the relationship between numerical thinking and the human language faculty, providing psychological, linguistic, and philosophical perspectives on numbers, their evolution, and development in children.

    • Makes an original contribution to a central field of cognitive science (language and number)
    • Analyses the impact of language on numerical thinking
    • Accessible and reader-friendly
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    Awards

    • Winner of the MEA's 2005 Susanne K. Langer Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Symbolic Form

    Reviews & endorsements

    "In Numbers, Language, and the Human Mind, Heike Wiese builds the case for numerical cognition growing out of the symbolic cognition at the base of language-not as a parasitic spin-off, or a mere naming of numerical concepts, but as an ability whose roots extend to the same underlying cognitive operations. It is an account of the cognitive basis of number concepts that is breathtaking in its synthetic scope, impeccable in its thoroughness of analysis, and stunning in its originality. Prof. Wiese's book is proof that a work of theoretical rigor and scientific originality can be presented in unassumingly lucid prose, accessible to anyone with a serious curiousity about the nature of mathematic knowledge." --Terrence Deacon, Prof. of Anthropology, U.C. Berkeley, and author of "The Symbolic Species: The Coevolution of Language and the Brain"

    "An elegant and witty of mathematics, psychology, and linguistics, Wiese's new book offers an important advance in explicating cognitive foundations of number. Wiese rigorously demonstrates how the uses of numbers for counting, ordering, and naming arise through the interaction of prelinguistic capacities with the expressive power of the language faculty, confirming in detail a hypothesis that has been in the air for some years now. Not only that, she makes it fun. I couldn't put the book down." --Ray Jackendoff, Prof. of Linguistics, Brandeis University

    "A refreshing and engaging investigation of the relationship between language and our human capacity for numerical thought. Wiese does a wonderful job of laying out the elaborate and many-layered connections between different kinds of numbers concepts, symbolic systems for representing and manipulating numbers (including but not limited to natural language), and the fundamental categories by which we understand the world - objects, subjects, and event. This book will appeal to anyone interested in numerical cognition or in the relationship between language and thought." --Karen Wynn, Prof. of Psychology and Cognitive Science, Yale University

    "You can count on this book to be a reliable contribution to cognitive science and to linguistics--and remarkably accessible." GEOLINGUISTICS, Vol. 30, Leonard R.N. Ashley

    "Indeed, there is much here that is interesting -- and interesting in a mathematical kind of way."
    Marion D. Cohen, Mathematical Association of America

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2004
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9780511056727
    • contains: 4 tables
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction
    1. Numbers and objects
    2. What does it mean to be a number?
    3. Can words be numbers?
    4. The language legacy
    5. Children's route to number: from iconic representations to numerical thinking
    6. The organisation of our cognitive number domain
    7. Non-verbal number systems
    8. Numbers in language: the grammatical integration of numerical tools
    Appendix.

  • Author

    Heike Wiese, Universität Potsdam
    Heike Weiss is Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the Institute for German Linguistics and Language, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She has published in the fields of linguistics, cognitive science, philosophy, and didactics of mathematics.

    Awards

    • Winner of the MEA's 2005 Susanne K. Langer Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Symbolic Form

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