[lbo-talk] Sects and vanguards - SDS, Weatherman, etc.

Arthur Maisel arthurmaisel at gmail.com
Fri Mar 7 22:32:12 PST 2014

It seems to me that the lengths people have to go to to deny the reality of numbers is the best proof that they are real. The disagreements over whether they "exist" always hinge on differing definitions of what that word means. Numbers are real for *us*---who else are we talking about?

To posit a perception that is a pure and simple physical response to the stimulus of sense data is one example of going to lengths. I see a cat on the table because photons bouncing off the mammal on the eating surface enter my eyes and stimulate neurons in my brain, QED. Begs rather a lot of questions, no? Note how the cat on the table, supposedly the end product of this purely material process, is snuck in as the "mammal on the eating surface." (W. C. Fields, one imagines, might have been a logical positivist---if only he hadn't taken up juggling, alas.)

Or how about this one: because of varying densities of the molecules in the air impinging on my ear drums over time, which variations are converted into analogous electrochemical impulses in various neural pathways, I hear a windy philosophical argument?

On Fri, Mar 7, 2014 at 11:06 AM, Charles Brown <cb31450 at gmail.com> wrote:

> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_mathematics#Indispensability_argument_for_realism
> Indispensability argument for realism
> This argument, associated with Willard Quine and Hilary Putnam, is
> considered by Stephen Yablo to be one of the most challenging
> arguments in favor of the acceptance of the existence of abstract
> mathematical entities, such as numbers and sets.[20] The form of the
> argument is as follows.
> One must have ontological commitments to all entities that are
> indispensable to the best scientific theories, and to those entities
> only (commonly referred to as "all and only").
> Mathematical entities are indispensable to the best scientific
> theories. Therefore,
> One must have ontological commitments to mathematical entities.[21]
> The justification for the first premise is the most controversial.
> Both Putnam and Quine invoke naturalism to justify the exclusion of
> all non-scientific entities, and hence to defend the "only" part of
> "all and only". The assertion that "all" entities postulated in
> scientific theories, including numbers, should be accepted as real is
> justified by confirmation holism. Since theories are not confirmed in
> a piecemeal fashion, but as a whole, there is no justification for
> excluding any of the entities referred to in well-confirmed theories.
> This puts the nominalist who wishes to exclude the existence of sets
> and non-Euclidean geometry, but to include the existence of quarks and
> other undetectable entities of physics, for example, in a difficult
> position.[21]
> Epistemic argument against realism
> The anti-realist "epistemic argument" against Platonism has been made
> by Paul Benacerraf and Hartry Field. Platonism posits that
> mathematical objects are abstract entities. By general agreement,
> abstract entities cannot interact causally with concrete, physical
> entities. ("the truth-values of our mathematical assertions depend on
> facts involving Platonic entities that reside in a realm outside of
> space-time"[22]) Whilst our knowledge of concrete, physical objects is
> based on our ability to perceive them, and therefore to causally
> interact with them, there is no parallel account of how mathematicians
> come to have knowledge of abstract objects.[23][24][25] ("An account
> of mathematical truth ... must be consistent with the possibility of
> mathematical knowledge."[26]) Another way of making the point is that
> if the Platonic world were to disappear, it would make no difference
> to the ability of mathematicians to generate proofs, etc., which is
> already fully accountable in terms of physical processes in their
> brains.
> Field developed his views into fictionalism. Benacerraf also developed
> the philosophy of mathematical structuralism, according to which there
> are no mathematical objects. Nonetheless, some versions of
> structuralism are compatible with some versions of realism.
> The argument hinges on the idea that a satisfactory naturalistic
> account of thought processes in terms of brain processes can be given
> for mathematical reasoning along with everything else. One line of
> defense is to maintain that this is false, so that mathematical
> reasoning uses some special intuition that involves contact with the
> Platonic realm. A modern form of this argument is given by Sir Roger
> Penrose.[27]
> Another line of defense is to maintain that abstract objects are
> relevant to mathematical reasoning in a way that is non-causal, and
> not analogous to perception. This argument is developed by Jerrold
> Katz in his book Realistic Rationalism.
> A more radical defense is denial of physical reality, i.e. the
> mathematical universe hypothesis. In that case, a mathematician's
> knowledge of mathematics is one mathematical object making contact
> with another.
> On Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 10:01 AM, Shane Mage <shmage at pipeline.com> wrote:
> >
> > On Mar 6, 2014, at 9:11 AM, Charles Brown wrote:
> >
> >> "There is nothing but matter and, its mode of existence is motion. " -
> >>
> > Nonsense. Matter in motion is ORDERED by mathematical laws.
> Mathematical
> > objects (numbers and shapes) ARE and there is nothing MATERIAL about
> them.
> >
> >
> >
> > Shane Mage
> >
> >
> > This cosmos did none of gods or men make, but it
> > always was and is and shall be: an everlasting fire,
> > kindling in measures and going out in measures.
> >
> > Herakleitos of Ephesos
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > ___________________________________
> > http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/mailman/listinfo/lbo-talk
> ___________________________________
> http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/mailman/listinfo/lbo-talk

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