Is the universe driven by mathematics or is it driven by aesthetics ?
One cannot fail to look upward at the beauty of the night sky
without a feeling of wonder.
Physicists look for ultimate explanations for the behavior
of the universe in mathematics, and indeed one cannot avoid
mathematics in describing the physical universe.
Many have remarked at the fact that the universe is so
intellegible. Indeed, Plato at his academy admonished,
Let no-one ignorant of geometry enter here”, for his cosmology
of the structure of the universe was based on a series
of geometrical forms. Forms. This perhaps suggests, because
of the entrance of beautiful forms into Plato's metaphysics,
an aesthetic aspect to his cosmology.
Similarly, advancing this a step further, while Leibniz was
well grounded in mathematics (being a co-discover of the calculus),
and was constantly amazed at the geometrical structures
in nature, his metaphysics also shaped his thinking
due to his a) Principle of Sufficient Reason, in which
there is a reason why every aspect of the universe
is as it is, and b) the pre-established harmony,
the word "harmony" indicating an aesthetic beyond logic
of relations of parts of the universe into his metaphysics.
Thus Leibniz viewed the history of the universe as following
the metaphysics of a "pre-established harmony", ever striving
toward a more perfect harmony or beauty. Now beauty
appears as a unity in diversity, which I have suggested
as moving toward the One from the Many. But
others have suggested that the One is just one, not
unity in diversity.
Leibniz, through his metaphysics, in which the parts
are related to the whole, suggests that metaphysics,
even aesthetics, rules the universe, not mathematics.
Dr. Roger B Clough NIST (ret.) [1/1/2000]
See my Leibniz site at
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