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Nov29-08, 07:23 PM
P: 705
Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
I'm detecting a bias....
I've certainly got a bias, but it's no more of one than when physicists or other scientists try to blame mathematics for things that go wrong in the course of their own discipline!

Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
Mathematics is sometimes necessary but always insufficient for accurately describing anything in the universe. 2+4 = 6 tells me nothing in the context of my experience in the universe. 2 apples + 4 tomatoes could be equivalent to 2 fruits or 6 fruits depending on who you talk to and how they define a fruit. These shortcomings are inherent to describing reality. Of course mathematics in its purest form is free of them... because mathematics in its purest form has nothing to do with reality (which itself is much less stable then the concept of mathematics)

An alien race might come up with an alternate method for manipulating their world that doesn't require mathematics. It seems anthrocentric to claim the human method of observation and manipulation is the only one.
That would be anthropocentric if I claimed that, yes... but I didn't. I just said that it has existence separate from human contemplation of it, nothing about mathematics being the only way to do anything.

And if that's the case, that mathematics or its subject of study has some existence separate from human contemplation of it, it seems odd to say that it has nothing to do with reality. Introducing the problem of defining what a fruit is is again attempting to drag one of the problems of science into mathematics, btw.

Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
Also, every human race has come up with theology independently too. If aliens were to be religious would we have to start questioning the validity of religion as well?
If aliens ended up developing the exact same theology, which hasn't even happened independently between separate cultures on Earth, that would be pretty notable, yes.

Whereas if aliens developed mathematics reconcilable with human mathematics, many aspects of which have been developed independently in Earth history, no one would be anywhere near as amazed as they would be if we encountered an alien civilization practing, say, Theravada Buddhism.