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According to Wittgenstein, mathematics is embedded in, and partly constituting, a form of life. Hence, to imagine different, alternative forms of elementary mathematics, we should have to imagine different practices, different forms of life in which they could play a role. If we tried to imagine a radically different arithmetic we should think either of a strange world (in which objects unaccountably vanish or appear) or of people acting and responding in very peculiar ways. If such was their practice, a calculus expressing the norms of representation they applied could not be called false. Rather, our criticism could only be to dismiss such a practice as foolish and to dismiss their norms as too different from ours to be called ‘mathematics’.
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