The Language of Mathematics

  • Thread starter Mentat
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Mathematics is...

  • The cause of the phenomena in the Universe.

    Votes: 2 10.0%
  • A descriptive language that is Universe-made, as described in Mentat's post.

    Votes: 6 30.0%
  • A descriptive language that is man-made.

    Votes: 11 55.0%
  • Other (what?)

    Votes: 1 5.0%

  • Total voters
    20
3,754
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I found another of my old threads, from PF2, and decided that I would like everyone's opinion on this topic again...

Some have said that mathematics is a way of description that was invented by man.

Some say that mathematics is causal, and that the universe conforms to mathematics, instead of the other way around. I have a problem with this idea because of the points in This Thread.

I personally believe that mathematics is a descriptive language - the best of them - that some are fluent in and others are not. It is a universal language, and is the only one that is without flaw (the only flaw would be in our understanding of mathematical principles). I do not believe that mathematics is man-made, but rather that it is universe-made.

But I want to see your opinions.

Note: Please give the reason for your choices, unless that reason is already covered in this post.
 
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I choose all of the above and none of the above. Whatever mathematics may or may not be, the word is most definitely used to denote a descriptive shorthand language people use. Whether natural or man-made makes no difference whatsoever to its application and, hence, in that context is a moot point.

Alexander's mysticism is deep and rich, not unlike a twelve layer chocolate cake or a fresh cowpie. However, we already have a bulletin board dedicated to mysticism and I try not to encourage him to get to deep into it on the philosophy bulletin board.
 
3,754
2
Originally posted by wuliheron
I choose all of the above and none of the above. Whatever mathematics may or may not be, the word is most definitely used to denote a descriptive shorthand language people use. Whether natural or man-made makes no difference whatsoever to its application and, hence, in that context is a moot point.

Alexander's mysticism is deep and rich, not unlike a twelve layer chocolate cake or a fresh cowpie. However, we already have a bulletin board dedicated to mysticism and I try not to encourage him to get to deep into it on the philosophy bulletin board.
Well, alrighty then. I'm glad to have your opinion, though I suspected this kind of response from you to begin with :smile:.
 
3,754
2
Again, I urge those of you that vote to give your reasons, unless they are already covered in my post - in which case, you should indicate this as well.
 

Kerrie

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i believe mathematics is human discovered but is the language of the universe, geometry especially in my opinion is extremely descriptive of our universe...
 

drag

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Greetings !

Good thread Mentat !

My opinion is that mathematics is indeed
a discriptive language. It is somewhat unique
in this role though. The reason for this
uniquness is the fact that when people
created this abstract system they wanted
to use the most basic ellements inherent in
our reasoning, rather than just discribe the
observed. The result of this was a system
that had very few and very basic axioms that
seemed to match precisely the most basic patterns
we observe in the Universe. It also meant that
this system could evolve and create many
patterns that appear to be greatly similar to those
that we find in nature and can discribe those.

What do I mean by basic ellements ?
Well, one basic ellement of all reasoning systems
we had so far is the existence of separate entities.
Others are space, time, laws/relations that control
the entities and possibly more.

Now, while these may seem totally basic and
inescapable for any reasoning - they, in fact, have
no real reasonable justification because any such
attempt based on the reasoning systems we're
aware of so far will be self-referential.
(And for Mentat: In this case this is deductive
reasoning - if I want to explain any of these
concepts I need a reasoning system and any such
system, I'm aware of at least, has these basic
components. In fact, the requirement of a reasoning
system to construct arguments is by itself basic
and self-referential.)

An intresting point is that although math is
man-made, the basis for this system in fact
lies in the data that we observe (what we may
call the observable Universe). Of course, we
probably have no way of knowing or proving
weather tommorow might bring a new type of
observation that will mathematicly be meaningless,
because it will not have the same basic concepts
(and weather that is at all possible is also
an intresting question).

Doubt or shout !

Live long and prosper.
 

Alexander

Math obviousely is a cause of objects and phenomena in universe.

Say, take a rainbow - what causes it? Raindrops? Nope (there is no rainbow in raindrops). Sun light? Nope - because there is no RAINBOW in light yet (indeed, look at Sun).

What makes a rainbow is DISPERSION (=difference) of speed of light (for different frequencies) in water. All properties of rainbow mathematically follow from dispersion function (which in turn mathematically follows from inertia of electrons responding to variable e/m field (called light)).

Or take an atom. Where does it come from? Definitely not from electron or proton (indeed, there are NO atom neither in electron nor in proton). Atom is simply the mathematical solution for a wave trapped in 1/r potential. Harmonics of this wave (n=1,2,3...) are what we call s, p, d... orbitals.

So, "objects" and "phenomena" are at CLOSE LOOK just mathematical solutions of more basic mathematical object (say, wave) in given mathematical circumstances (say 1/r potential). Just because mathematics is simply a logic of existense.

The problem with layman understanding of math is that he CAN NOT look close (not enough mathematical education) to see that.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

drag

Science Advisor
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Alexander, you're talking about the relation
of math and science. What is being discussed
is the relation of math and everything, not
just observation (of course you could say
there's nothing but observation, however, what
about things we haven't observed yet ?).
It is indeed possible that some new type
of observation will not at all be discribable
by math(it could be fundumentally impossible of
course, but that in turn is probably unprovable),
and hence the separation does exist.

Doubt or shout !

Live long and prosper.
 

selfAdjoint

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I voted for man-made. I know some, like Penrose, are Platonists and believe math is prior to the universe.

Here is what I think. Mathematics is a collection of ideas, ideas existing in human minds. But mathematical ideas have a property most ideas do not; they are well-defined. This means they have sharp properties and can be communicated between people without loss of sharpness. Compare this to other beloved ideas like "Justice" or "Democracy".

Now the relationships exist, at least approximately out in nature. I suppose there is a 3-4-5 triangle out there somewhere. But that is not mathematics, mathematics is when people think about such a triangle and say Aha! 3^2 + 4^2 = 5^2!
 

LogicalAtheist

I would assert the claim that math is not tied to humans whatsoever.

This could be studied well, and shown to certainly be of value. In fact, history alone helps with alot of evidence that math is NOT merely a certain species' way of looking at the world.

Thus the answer which follows evidence is it is a universal system
 
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Originally posted by Kerrie
i believe mathematics is human discovered but is the language of the universe, geometry especially in my opinion is extremely descriptive of our universe...

I agree.

Although it is not complete as shown by Godel.
 

LogicalAtheist

Humans did discover math. This implies math existed before humans. Indeed I have seen evidence which supports this.

Besides, this is also supported by nearly all of science. That math is "universal".

Indeed I could post here an experiment one could do to support this. As simple as it is!
 

drag

Science Advisor
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Greetings !
Originally posted by LogicalAtheist
Humans did discover math. This implies math
existed before humans. Indeed I have seen
evidence which supports this.
You mean you took a stick and poked at it ?
Originally posted by LogicalAtheist
Besides, this is also supported by nearly all
of science. That math is "universal".
Indeed. Supported, not proved (just like everything else). :wink:
Originally posted by LogicalAtheist
Indeed I could post here an experiment one could
do to support this. As simple as it is!
Please do !

Peace and long life.
 

Alexander

Originally posted by selfAdjoint
I voted for man-made. I know some, like Penrose, are Platonists and believe math is prior to the universe.

Here is what I think. Mathematics is a collection of ideas, ideas existing in human minds.
Nope. Math is just a logic coming from existence of objects. That is why any existing object obeys mathematics.
 
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Originally posted by Alexander
Nope. Math is just a logic coming from existence of objects. That is why any existing object obeys mathematics.
Ahhh, then everything is logical and nothing is absurd! What a revelation, you should start your own religion!
 
1,476
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Well...., Math is such a complex subject. But to ge to the point I think pure math is a development of man. An abstract system of reasoning with numbers and symbols that at first developed to make keep track of trade and production. Simply counting objects or amounts of things for trade and then learning to manipulate the numbers. Arithmetic and plain geometry certainly discribe real natural systems. One apple + one apple = two apples and the relationship of a circle's diameter and circumference are not the invention of man nor are they really abstract thoughts.
On the other hand number theory and algebra are pure abstractions of the human mind and are in no way representative of any natural phenomena, but based on logicical rules of relationships and maniplulations of abstract symbols not related to any real, natural occurrence. I voted that math is man made, an invention of man existing only in man's mind; but, having said that I agree completely that it was at first based on natural, real phenomina.
Man invented the names and later symbols 1,2,3....
 
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Sounds like the mocking birds are all out in force! ... Nahh, we all have better manners than that now don't we? ... Oh the disdain! Oh the disdain!

What you're referring to here is Capitalism anyway.
 

Tom Mattson

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I voted "descriptive language--man made". It is an abstract system like logic that exists only as a mental construct. However, as Ontoplasma (where is he?) used to point out, mathematics is more than just a language, it is a science in its own right.
 

FZ+

1,550
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I too voted Descriptive Language, man made. I think of maths as a subjective, but self-consistent conceptual model of real laws of the universe. Mathematics is founded on axioms and definitions than cannot really be proven as always true in the real world. It is an ideal of how the universe should be, and an assumed truth with which we can make extrapolations (predictions). The study of mathematics is based on finding the implications of our mathematical axioms. But is mathematics a science? I don't really think so, as it is a self-contained system that is not really falsifiable by evidence. The application of the model is checkable, but the fundamentals of the system itself is not.
 

Tom Mattson

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Originally posted by FZ+
But is mathematics a science? I don't really think so, as it is a self-contained system that is not really falsifiable by evidence. The application of the model is checkable, but the fundamentals of the system itself is not.
You are right in that mathematics is not falsifiable. I meant that mathematics is a discipline that is systematically pursued for its own sake, and not just a language used by physicists.
 
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Originally posted by Alexander
Math obviousely is a cause of objects and phenomena in universe.

Say, take a rainbow - what causes it? Raindrops? Nope (there is no rainbow in raindrops). Sun light? Nope - because there is no RAINBOW in light yet (indeed, look at Sun).

What makes a rainbow is DISPERSION (=difference) of speed of light (for different frequencies) in water. All properties of rainbow mathematically follow from dispersion function (which in turn mathematically follows from inertia of electrons responding to variable e/m field (called light)).
Yeah, this is obviously a physical phenomenon. And, as mathematics has no physical force, it could not possibly be the "cause" of a physical phenomenon.

Or take an atom. Where does it come from? Definitely not from electron or proton (indeed, there are NO atom neither in electron nor in proton).
This reasoning is getting just rediculous (no offence). It is obvious that atoms don't come from electrons or protons, they come from the relationship between both.

So, "objects" and "phenomena" are at CLOSE LOOK just mathematical solutions of more basic mathematical object (say, wave) in given mathematical circumstances (say 1/r potential). Just because mathematics is simply a logic of existense.

The problem with layman understanding of math is that he CAN NOT look close (not enough mathematical education) to see that.
But all you have shown is that mathematics has done a beautiful job of describing the phenomena that exist in the Universe, as it is.

If the Universe were different, the logic itself would be different.
 
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Your right mentat, Alexander has the cart before the horse. Talk about inconsistant resoning. Alexander has math causing the universe instead of describing it and making models of it which any scientist worth his salt repeatedly says and admits that the discription and model is not complete or exact.
Before you form your new religion of MATH, better open your holy bible THE TEXT BOOK and read it again Alexander. You've missed some very important points and misinterpeted a number of different passages and quotes.
 
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Originally posted by Royce
Your right mentat, Alexander has the cart before the horse. Talk about inconsistant resoning. Alexander has math causing the universe instead of describing it and making models of it which any scientist worth his salt repeatedly says and admits that the discription and model is not complete or exact.
Before you form your new religion of MATH, better open your holy bible THE TEXT BOOK and read it again Alexander. You've missed some very important points and misinterpeted a number of different passages and quotes.
Alex knows perfectly well he has it backwards and is a mystic. You are sadly mistaken if you think you can convert him! Encouraging him to carry on about it on the philosophy bulletin board only supports his particular brand of mysticism over other kinds, which are not allowed to post here. However, its a unique situation because he has so little in common with the average mystic, and so much more in common with philosophers. Kinda a strange bed fellow to say the least.
 

LogicalAtheist

Royce - This place isn't here so you can convert people to your mythology, or bring us down with your antics. Try the yahoo chats for religious mythology.
 

drag

Science Advisor
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Originally posted by LogicalAtheist
Royce - This place isn't here so you can convert people to your mythology, or bring us down with your antics. Try the yahoo chats for religious mythology.
Royce, don't listen to him...:wink:
 

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