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Does math exist?

Started by Plu, June 05, 2013, 02:29:45 PM

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Quote from: rex on April 25, 2014, 08:21:08 PM
Yes and the ratio is always the same. It never changes.

So is the speed of light, Planck's constant, and Newton's constant. But so what? Numbers are just a convenient way to express certain realities, but we also do the same with words or pictures. You have to be able to dissect between "reality" and "description of reality" - the latter being done with written words, pictures, sound (oral communication), and numbers, all of which are human constructs. When I say, "this is a tree", that is a statement which I can make by writing it or saying it orally. It is a human construct. The tree has its own existence, independently of whether I say that statement or not. But the statement only exists because there are humans who can utter or scribble that statement. Similarly, I can say, "on the other side of the road, there is a sheep, next to it, another sheep, next to that one, another sheep". Or I can say, "on the other side of the road, there are 3 sheep." There is no different reality in these two descriptions, but in the second one, I described that reality with a more convenient way, using 1+1+1 = 3. But both are "descriptions of reality", that is, human constructs. If I had 17 sheep instead of 3, the first type of description - enumerating them one by one - would be quite inconvenient and boring to say the least, but it would still be a valid "description of reality." Of course with math, I can do a lot more abstractions than if I didn't have math - trying to do Quantum Mechanics (see here) or General Relativity (see here) without math would be nearly impossible. I can make a similar argument with language: without it, how far do you think we would have progressed in our understanding of the universe? Not much. We have a better understand of the real world with language, math, art, music, etc. - all human constructs. It's testimony of the creativity of the human mind.


Quote from: Plu on June 05, 2013, 02:29:45 PM
An interesting video on the topic of whether or not math is even a real thing.

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I'd like to hear your opinions. I'm still trying to figure out my own <!-- s:P -->:P<!-- s:P -->

I just think of math as a language.
6+6=12 is identical to
six plus six equals twelve

Now, just ask yourself. "Does english exist?"
I'd have to say yes since we are using english right now. Would english exist if there were never any people? No, but this doesn't mean that words that describe concepts invalidate the concept if the words don't exist.

For example "2" doesn't exist anywhere. You can always point to two things, or to the symbol "2" but never actually to "2". Twoness is a concept. That concept exists even if there is no language like math or english to give it a label.

You could now probably argue (if you were really argumentative) whether or not concepts exist if there are no brains to conceptualize them. It seems to me that concepts are always available to be conceptualized even in the absence of any brains.

Carl Sagan
"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."