FOM: Wigner quote
steel at math.berkeley.edu
Tue Jan 27 14:51:42 EST 1998
The hope that one might explain the "unreasonable effectiveness of
mathematics" seems in itself unreasonable. There is an old parallel in
the medieval Argument from Design. Theologians "explained" the order and
harmony of our universe by postulating a superior version of our own
intelligence as its creator. The "explanation" goes nowhere, because it
rests on concepts so much less clear than the laws being explained.
Natural science, and the mathematics woven into it, are our clearest
and most successful form of explanation. There is the trivial explanation
of its success: it's true. This amounts to re-iterating our best
explanation of the world. I think it's naive to hope for more than this.
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