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So You Are Not A Platonist

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Posted by Harvey on August 28, 2001 17:46:52 UTC

Hi Paul,

Okay, so you are not a platonist in terms of the existence of mathematical structure being outside human minds, but you believe that there is some indescribable world 'out there', is that correct?

However...

>>>So to answer your question, humans invented the formalism without a doubt (i.e. the written material you find in the math books.) The relationships described by the mathematical theory are simply tautologies so it should surprise no one that they are true everywhere, and it would be a little presumptious to claim to have made a "discovery" of them. The application of mathematics to the real world, i.e. science, is true human discovery. It has proven to be extremely useful to discover that a particular mathematical theory matches some aspects of a physical system closely enough in order to make useful predictions of the nature or behavior of that physical system. Both the scientists and the mathematicians deserve to share the credit for such discoveries, but notice that they are both human.>And, since Dick has shown that a particular branch of mathematics, (i.e. the mathematics of numbers (arithmetic and analysis)) reveals certain restrictions on what patterns might occur in large sets of numbers, and that these same restrictions would apply to any real structure which could be described by numbers, which large parts of our universe seem to, it seems reasonable to me that God would have done the mathematics and would have made the same discovery Dick did, but eons earlier.>But, if you change both appearances of the word 'see' to the word 'quantify' in your question, then my answer would be "Yes, that is what I am saying". I think we see a lot of things we can't quantify, for example the joy in a child's face, but mathematics is useless in helping us understand what we see in these cases, as you pointed out previously in a remark about psychology.So I stand behind what I said: "If you forget about arithmetic, you have just lost all the numbers. That is where they come from.">>Huh? Who said anything about truth? You toss that word in as if we understand and agree on what it means. I, personally, haven't the foggiest notion as to what it might mean, so I can neither confirm nor deny your assertion.

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