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date: 24 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines ways of expressing generality and epistemic configurations in which generality issues became intertwined with epistemological topics, such as rigor, or mathematical topics, such as point-set theory. In this regard, three very specific configurations are discussed: the first evolving from Niels Henrik Abel to Karl Weierstrass, the second in Joseph-Louis Lagrange’s treatises on analytic functions, and the third in Emile Borel. Using questions of generality, the article first compares two major treatises on function theory, one by Lagrange and one by Augustin Louis Cauchy. It then explores how some mathematicians adopted the sophisticated point-set theoretic tools provided for by the advocates of rigor to show that, in some way, Lagrange and Cauchy had been right all along. It also introduces the concept of embedded generality for capturing an approach to generality issues that is specific to mathematics.

Keywords: generality, rigor, point-set theory, Niels Henrik Abel, Joseph-Louis Lagrange, analytic functions, function theory, embedded generality, mathematics, Augustin Louis Cauchy

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