[lit-ideas] Re: math question

  • From: "Adriano Palma" <Palma@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2012 07:11:38 +0200

** Low Priority **
** Reply Requested by 4/10/2012 (Tuesday) **

take a look at the debated... (and debatable) Chomsky hauser & Fitch on

? נכון 
>>> Ed Farrell <ewf@xxxxxxxxxxx> 09/04/2012 08:37 PM >>>
If you think of mathematics as an invented "thing," then surely it is
more than a little mysterious.

Let's say we've "invent" the number system.  This seems reasonable
because the system cannot be seen or touched except by the mind.  Beyond
simple counting, it can't be communicated except through a more or less
abstruse symbolic language that is clearly invented. But we soon find
that this system we've invented has properties we didn't invent or even
necessarily intend--primes, Fibonacci numbers, logarithms, etc. These
properties we "find" through observation, like we would find new planets
or insect species. Some of these properties seem interesting enough in
themselves.  But some correspond the the natural world in ways that are
actually predictive, the way a Fibonacci sequence, for instance, can
describe the branching of trees or the equiangular logarithmic spiral
describes the structure of certain mollusc shells and spiral galaxies. 
If this sort of predictive ability is an unintended consequence of a
human invention--that's weird and inscrutable.

It seems a little less weird if you think of mathematics as a human
faculty more along the lines of language.  But maybe this is just
because inscrutability seems less inscrutable when it has company.

Ed Farrell
Livermore, California 

Monday, April 9, 2012, 9:01:50 AM, you wrote:

I have to agree with Adriano... there is nothing mysterious, or even
explainable about mathematics. It just IS! You can tell me WHY 2+2=4
REALLY. Except to describe the fact that it does. 

just my 1+1 cents.


On Mon, Apr 9, 2012 at 2:15 AM, Adriano Palma <Palma@xxxxxxxxxx>
the sequence has nothing surprising (take a look at terry tao's work if
you like surprises)

? נכון 
>>> Julie Krueger <juliereneb@xxxxxxxxx> 09/04/2012 01:19 AM >>>

So from all this I take it that no one can, in fact, explain the why of
the math sequence?

Julie Krueger

  ><(((º>¸. ·´¯`·.¸., . .·´¯`·.. ><(((º>
  Edward W. Farrell // ewf@xxxxxxxxxxx

  E d  F a r r e l l  P h o t o g r a p h y

  Plato for Research Management
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