[EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:
>>But this only shows that mathematical objects exist in the sense that chair
>>as a abstraction from chairs. So chair isn't identical with any particular
> What follows is actually a very important and profound metaphysical
> point, absolutely fundamental for understanding platonism and reality
> Both the *concept* of a chair and mathematical concepts are *abstract*
> things. But there's a big difference. In the case of the chair
> concept, it's simply a human creation - it's simply a word we humans
> use to summarize high-level properties of physical arrangements of
> matter. There are no 'chairs' in reality, only in our heads. We can
> see this by noting the fact that we can easily dispense with the 'chair
> concept' and simply use physics descriptions instead. So in the case
> of the 'chair' concept, we're obviously dealing with a human construct.
> Critical point: The 'chair' concept is only a (human) cognitive
> category NOT a metaphysical or ontological categories.
> Mathematical concepts are quite different. The key difference is that
> we *cannot* in fact dispense with mathematical descriptions and replace
> them with something else. We cannot *eliminate* mathematical concepts
> from our theories like we can with say 'chair' concepts. And this is
> the argument for regarding mathematical concepts as existing 'out
> there' and not just in our heads. There are two steps to the argument
> for thinking that mathematical entities are real:
> (1) A general mathematical category is not the same as any specific
> physical thing
> (2) Mathematical entities cannot be removed from our descriptions and
> replaced with something else ( the argument from indispensibility).
> It's true that both 'chair' concepts (for example) and math concepts
> are *abstract*, but the big difference is that for a 'chair' concept,
> (1) is true, but not (2). For mathematical concepts both (1) AND (2)
> are true.
> There's another way of clarifying the difference between the 'chair'
> concept and math concepts. Math concepts are *universal* in scope
> (applicable everywhere - we cannot remove them from our theories) where
> as the 'chair' concept is a cultural construct applicable only in human
> To make this even clearer, pretend that all of reality is Java Code.
> It's true that both a 'chair' *concept* and a 'math' concept is an
> abstraction, and therfore a *class* , but the difference between a
> 'chair' concept and a 'math' concept is this: 'Math' is a *public
> class* (an abstract category which can be applied everywhere in
> reality), where as a 'chair' concept is *private* class, applicable
> only in specific locations inside reality (in this case inside human
> Reality Java Code for a math concept:
> PUBLIC CLASS MATH ()
> Reality Java Code a chair concept:
> PRIVATE CLASS CHAIR ()
> Big difference!
> The critical and profound point if we accept this argument, is this:
> *There is NO difference between *epistemological* and *metaphysical*
> categories in the cases where we are dealing with cognitive categories
> which are universal in scope. Math concepts of universal applicability
> are BOTH epistemological tools AND metaphysical or ontological
> categories. One needs to think about this carefully to realize just
> how important this is.
It is an interesting point, but it's not so fundamental as you seem to think.
do without 'chair' and 'table' etc. But we can't do wihtout 'this' and 'that'.
Without distinguishing objects we couldn't count and we wouldn't have the
Language, logic, and math are human inventions just as chair is, c.f. William
Cooper "The Evolution of Reason". Probably they are nomologically necessary in
sense that any sentient species that evolves would have to invent them. But
because mathematics and logic are built into our language and are necessary to
language that we could recognize, does not show they are "out there" like the
we call 'that chair' is out there. That chair would continue to exist even if
humans were wiped off the Earth - but the concept of 'chairs' wouldn't and
Ontology is invented too. Most ontologies put the chair 'out there' and math
heads'. Some put the chair 'out there' and math in 'Mathematica' (I don't like
use 'Platonia' because Plato put chair in there too). Java has it's own
that we invented to reflect an idea of instances and classes. There's nothing
necessary about that as is easily seen from the fact that anything Java can do
also be done in Fortran or assembly or by a Turing machine.
The sciences do not try to explain, they hardly even try to interpret, they
make models. By a model is meant a mathematical construct which, with the
of certain verbal interpretations, describes observed phenomena. The
of such a mathematical construct is solely and precisely that it is expected
--—John von Neumann
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