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Re: Landau letter, Re: Mathematica as a New Approach...

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  • Subject: [mg128103] Re: Landau letter, Re: Mathematica as a New Approach...
  • From: Andrzej Kozlowski <akozlowski at>
  • Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2012 03:22:54 -0400 (EDT)
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> Of course I've heard of them. But I don't consider mid 20th century 
"modern" here. Science and mathematics have changed drastically in the 
last century: philosophy hasn't yet fully digested these developments. 
However, philosopher/mathematicians like Hersh have made very 
significant  advances in "humanist" mathematical philosophy.

But these very comments confirm what I have been arguing. "Science and 
mathematics have changed drastically in the last century". Presumably 
you mean "in the last 40 years or so"? Well who could argue with that? 
Indeed, new theorems have been proved, problems solved, phenomena 
discovered. And yet, the sentence is pure vapour - rhetorics for the 
naive.  In fact, nothing has occurred in mathematics that would in any 
fundamental way change our view of the nature of mathematics since 
Goedel (died 1978). The same is true for physics: the last discovery 
that fundamentally  affected our understanding of the nature of the 
subject took place in  1972: it was the first of many experiments that 
confirmed the violation of Bell's inequalities - something that in my 
opinion totally undermines the view of physics you have been arguing 
for. About a year ago I attended a conference where the latest research 
on the fundamental issues affected by this were discussed (such as the 
notion of "independent reality") so can say with confidence that in all 
essential respects the situation remains as it was in 1972. So what are 
these supposed advances in mathematics and physics that have not been 
absorbed by " "humanist" mathematical philosophy?

And what does "humanist" mean in this context? All the philosophers I 
mentioned have been either scientists or mathematicians. Michael Polanyi 
was a great chemist, who would have probably won the Nobel prize (it was 
later won by his son John) if he did not at one point decide that 
philosophy was more important than chemistry (he was right then). 
Polanyi was, of course, a leading exponent of the view that intellectual 
(or aesthetic) judgement is the driving force of scientific discovery. 
You also mention Hersh, presumably Rueben, a mathematician, writer of 
popular articles and an amateur philosopher. Well it is well known that 
Hersh was an admirer of Imre Lakatos, who is well known for denying the 
distinction between mathematics and empirical sciences. He is also known 
for his denial that Darwin's theory satisfies his criteria for being 
considered "scientific" (see

> Quine is an interesting fantasist, but I can't consider him any more 
reliable as a guide to reality than, say, J. R. R. Tolkien.

Well, as far as I am concerned, he has a far better claim to being such 
a guide than anyone involved in this exchange.

> The original issue of this thread was education. A philosophy that 
cannot distinguish between reality and hallucination is useless here. 
But, if we can understand mathematics as a human social construct, we 
can connect it to human social activities like education.

The issue was mathematics education of non-mathematicians. You extended 
it beyond its proper limits to the nature of mathematics and 
mathematicians. I consider this a worthless diversion. As far as 
mathematics is concerned the old adage has always been true: "Those who 
can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach, teach how to 

Andrzej Kozlowski

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