Volume 33, Issue 2, May 2018
Manipulative imagination: how to move things around in mathematics
In the first part of the article, a semiotic reading of the embodied approach to mathematics will be presented. From this perspective, the role of the sensorimotor in mathematics will be considered, by looking at some work in experimental psychology on the segmentation of formulas and at an analysis of the practice of topology as involving manipulative imagination. According to the proposed view, representations in mathematics are cognitive tools whose functioning depends on pre-existing cognitive abilities and specific training. In the second part of the paper, the view of cognitive tools as props in games of “make-believe” will be discussed; to better specify this claim, the notion of affordance will be explored in its possible extension from concrete objects to representations.