FOM: Re: Categorical foundations

Vaughan Pratt pratt at cs.Stanford.EDU
Sat Jan 24 19:30:02 EST 1998

>I am interested in a serious diskussion
>and not in demonstratively being right.

What, you want this war to go on forever?  War is hell, and we anxiously
await the headlines, "Victory in Setland: Category Theorists Surrender."
(Or vice versa, peace at any cost.)

These two ostensibly opposing, ardently advocated viewpoints on the proper
foundations for mathematics might lead a student of human behavior with
no foundational axe to grind to infer that there *is* no demonstrably
right point of view.

Which was my point in my FOM posting of Nov. 1:

>A pity Martin Gardner is not on the FOM mailing list, where he could
>read such postings as [Simpson on McLarty on Gardner on Hersh] and learn
>that little green critters, with textbooks full of mysterious definitions
>and theorems purporting to be the true view of mathematics, are already
>among us and even holding conferences in nice places like Montreal and
>Vancouver where they engage in extraterrestrial mathematics.

(The 1997 International Category Theory meeting was held in Vancouver.)

Mathematics is part absolute, part cultural.  What better place to look
for evidence of the latter than on FOM?

Vaughan Pratt

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