FOM: Friedman on Realism/Philosophy (reply) wtait at
Fri Jan 30 14:36:19 EST 1998

I had meant to comment earlier on Steel(1/15/98):
>As a philosophical framework, Realism is right but not all that
>interesting. Both proponents and opponents sometimes try to present it as
>something more intriguing than it is, say by speaking of an "objective
>world of sets". Such rhetoric adds more heat than light. 

I hate to mention Wittgenstein, since most of my most respected friends and colleagues who have read him (and, regretably, some who have not) dispise him. But, beyond the arrogance, pretence and down-right ignorance, there are important insights in _Philosophical Investigations_. Witness:

§402 For _this_ is what disputes between idealists, solipsists and realists look like. The one party [viz. idealists and solipsists] attack the normal form of expresssion as if they were attacking a statement; the others [viz, realists] defend it, as if they were stating facts recognized by every reasonable human being.

That anti-realists in math as opposed to realists in mathematics were not included with the idealists (anti-realists about physical objects) and solipsists (anti-realists about other minds) is explained by W's ignorance of what was the normal form of expression in mathematics (by the 1930s'-40's, when he was writing).

Bill Tait

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