Philosophy of Mathematics


#1

I’ve had a lot of interesting discussions here with people about the philosophy of math, but I feel it often derails threads rather than aids discussion. So I’m making this thread to have this discussion without those ill effects.

Do math and it’s related abstract objects (numbers geometric shapes) exist? If it does does it exist only in the mind? Did humans invent it or discover it? If humans discovered math, did God create math, is math part of God? Or something else?

I’m a math major so this topic is pretty interesting to me.

To make my arguement brief, I’d say math is objectlively true. Math is true even if nobody knows it, thus it exists outside the mind and so it is discovered by us rather than invented as a tool to use.

I believe mathematics is part of the Divine Nature. As it’s true all truth has to be contained in the Truth, who is Jesus.

Ok have at it, I know I’m not the only one here who likes thinking about this.


#2

I’m useless at maths.

If I paint a picture however abstract, ie not copying nature, I will sense it is as I want. Following this it is possible that the shapes and contours can be quantified mathematically and patterns may be detected, but that is not how I created it.

This reminds me of temperature, the temperature is described by the thermometer but temperature isn’t thermometer.


#3

I would agree that your drawing of a triangle is not “a triangle”. That doesn’t imply to me that triangles don’t exists. In fact it might imply that it does exist. How could you draw something which isn’t a triangle and know to call it “triangle” if there’s no such thing?

It seems that even if you can’t reproduce it perfectly, your ability to recount its likeness to something you have knowledge of proves the things existence.


#4

If you can fail its classes in college, believe me, it exists. Now, as to what it is good for, that can be argued until the parousia.


#5

I have never liked math. I think I had some kind of math trauma at an early age. Seriously.

But God created everything. Even math.

Did I mention I don’t like math?


#6

Eugene Wigner published an article in 1960 entitled The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the NAtural Sciences. Some have even gone so far as to say that physical reality is a mathematical structure.


#7

“God created everything” is not true. God did not create love because God is love. God did not create truth. God is truth. I think God is math too. God did not make Himself.


#8

We can describe a lot of things by number, symmetry occurs a lot in nature and balance etc but though it helps us to quantify I don’t believe that this is how God created everything.
Where is math in personality, or spirit?


#9

I guess it would help me if you lay out what you’re arguing for. I’m not saying math is the only source of knowledge or something like that. So I’m not sure what you’re driving at


#10

Math has become a quasi-religion in that some are increasingly convinced that amassed data, equations and supercomputers can eventually solve mankind’s problems. This runs counter to entropy, which is repeatable, measurable and observable.


#11

I agree, we probably are talking about slightly different but related things.
What started this conversation was that I said when I throw a ball I’m not doing maths, but my throwing could be simulated mathematically. To me that means the math is a descriptor but only for our convenience.


#12

These are questions which I struggle with too.


#13

I look at math as more of an ‘accounting system’ for us. Whether we discovered it or invented it, I don’t know. I suppose it’s a bit of both.


#14

I would say that the mathematics which describe the ball’s motion exist independently from the ball. Let me use a simpler example: 105 exists. Even if we live in a universe where there are only 104 separate things, 105 still exists. It might not be useful but it doesn’t stop existing.

Another example. Let’s say every copy of To Kill a Mockingbird is burned or deleted except one. Does To Kill a Mockingbird exist in that one copy of the book? Well no. Because we could have burn it and kept a different copy and it would still exist. Thus we can burn every copy and it still exists. Thus it exists outside of physical reality.

So again. Even if there is no collection of 105 things, 105 itself still exists.


#15

105 only exists in your imagination no?

(Yes, please keep it simple, I was fine with apples and oranges at school but when they started using just numbers I dropped out!)


#16

No. I mean let’s continue with our imaginary universe that has only 104 things in it. Well we know that 1+103=104. And it’s natural to say all of those things exist. As they pertain to a physical reality. But if “+” “1” and “104” exist, it would be peculiar if 1+104=105 does not exist. If you say no numbers exist I’ll refer you to my To Kill a Mockingbird example.

(I gather you’re not American by your use of “maths” so in case you don’t know, which you probably do anyway, To Kill a Mockingbird is an American novel about racism in the South.)


#17

How can it be both? I’ve had a lot of people say that but I don’t personally see the compatibility.


#18

Yes I’ve heard of America and the book :wink: (joking)

I can see how you might say that the largest number you can think of exists because you can imagine that it’s possible to equate to and quantify some gigantic thing, but the thing exists whether you can number it or not. In fact the thing must exist before you can number it.


#19

I’m starting to see the difficulty in this.

I don’t think I would really be able to explain how it is both.

Was it you who said earlier that the mathematics of an ‘object’ are independent of the object itself?


#20

I can understand how something can have size, shape and weight etc and how we invented at first very simple methods to describe those attributes but I think it’s misleading to say that God created using maths.

I don’t get it.


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