FOM: Comment on Hersh

Reuben Hersh rhersh at
Mon Mar 2 13:06:58 EST 1998

Thank you for responding to my posting.

I attempted an analogy between music and mathematics; the point
was that as they are both (as you agree!) part of our social
consciousness, they both exist only while the human race exists.

This was not to say that mathematics and music are identical.
I doubt that any subscriber to this list needs to be convinced
that music is not mathematics and mathematis is not music.

In fact, there is no point to an analogy between things that are
identical, when one makes an analogy it is only between things
that are not identical. 

If you disagree with my claim that mathematics (in the sense of
pure mathematics, not in the sense of counting physical objects),
is a human creation which exists only while humanity exists,
then you can challenge and argue with *that*.

For instance, some people think that all pure mathematics,
including the monstrous simple groups and the continuum hypothesis,
are somehow embodied in physical reality.

Some people  think that if you read the proof of a beautiful
theorem of Lagrange, you  can't help being persuaded that
this theorem was around before the solar system had formed.
Or maybe it was true, without being "around."

And some famous mathematicians and philosophers
(not only Kronecker) explained it all by calling on the
mind of God or the creation of God.

Any way, I fully agree with you, music isn't math, math isn't music.


Reuben Hersh

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