Engineer Mehmet Misbah’s Views on the Philosophy of Mathematics and Mathematics Education
Kastamonu Üniversitesi, İnsan ve Toplum Bilimleri Fakültesi, Felsefe Bölümü, Kastamonu/Türkiye
Keywords: History of science, philosophy of mathematics, history of mathematics, history of mathematics education, Mühendis Mehmet Misbah.
Since the 18th century, the Ottoman Empire has experienced many changes and transformations in education, science and the military. The first examples of this process, which we can also call modernization, in the field of education were the military engineering schools “Mühendishâne-i Bahr-i Hümâyûn” and “Mühendishâne-i Berrî-i Hümâyûn.” In 1874, the first non-military engineering school, “Mülkiye Engineer School” was opened. The state sent some graduated engineers to important European cities, especially Paris, for higher education. Misbah was one of the students sent to Paris. In 1911, Misbah graduated from the “Mühendis Mekteb-i Âlîsi” and was sent to Paris in the same year. When he returned in 1913, he was appointed a lecturer at the engineering faculty, from which he graduated and continued his duty until 1919. Misbah’s views on the philosophy of mathematics and mathematics education constitute the subject of this article. For this purpose, Misbah’s article titled “Felsefe-i Riyâziyyât” published in Genç Mühendis, and his “Mukaddime” written for the first volume of the book “Mesâil-i Hendesiye” are analyzed in the context of the philosophy of mathematics and mathematics education.
Misbah explained his views on the philosophy of mathematics in his article “Felsefe-i Riyâziyyât,” which was published in manuscript form on pages 5-8 of the 36th issue of Genç Mühendis dated January 1911. Misbah, who expressed his views on the ontology and epistemology of mathematics based on the definitions of mathematics, was found to benefit from the ideas of Plato and Aristotle without mentioning any names. However, with the emergence of non-Euclidean geometries at the beginning of the 19th century, a crisis emerged in the foundations of mathematics. However, the article does not mention contemporary approaches to the philosophy of mathematics developed in the 19th century, such as Logicism, Formalism, and Intuitionism. In Fact, during this period, some Ottoman intellectuals organized informative seminars and published articles on non-Euclidean geometries and their philosophical implications.
In 1911, Muhittin Sırrı Şamlı, a friend of Misbah’s from the engineering faculty, wrote a two-volume book titled Mesâil-i Hendesiye and asked Misbah to write a preface for the first volume of the book. He emphasized that proofs should be included in the teaching of mathematics and that proofs done by the students themselves would develop the skill of “reasoning.” From Misbah’s statements, it was determined that he had a “student-centered learning” understanding of mathematics education.