FOM: hostility toward f.o.m.

Thomas Forster T.Forster at
Thu Jul 9 17:03:01 EDT 1998

your psychoanalysing is quite correct - i am certainly 
interested in foundational issues, it's just that -
for me at least - the fact that the rest of mathematics 
can be interpreted in set theory isn't an important     
reason for interest in set theory.  It is also true,
as you say, that Prof Utterbunk's talk is a childish
prank, the question is - why pick on set theory?
You don't catch people around here being rude about
number theory, for example.  If you want harder evidence
of hostility - of the kind you mention - there's plenty
of that too, unfortunately.  It may also be true, as you
say, that Bournaki isn't the only source of hostility to
set theory, but the other contributor you mention -
a general trend toward anti-foundationalism - is what
Bourbaki's hostility is just a manifestation of.  My 
feeling is that an important source of hostility to set
theory arises from mathematicians interpreting the
foundational claims of set theory as somehow deconstructing
their activity, and nobody likes being deconstructed!

      best wishes


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