FOM: Reply to Hersh on truth and time

Mon Mar 23 11:57:39 EST 1998

  Reuben, you reply to Davis et al that even if (for the sake of argument)
Lagranges's theorem was "true" before there were humans because of its
interpretability in physics, this does not save the Platonist position that
mathematics exists timelessly because the physical universe exists "in time".
  1) I agree with you that counting pebbles, Newtonian potentials, etc., are
human ways of talking about a prior physical reality and the mathematics is not
entailed by physical reality.  But if you look deeper, at *fundamental*
physical theories like QED, the mathematics there is entailed in a stronger
sense (it is irrelevant that there are alternative equivalent mathematizations).
Because the fundamental theories are in such a mathematically unsatisfactory
state, however, (see
you don't yet have to admit that any mathematics is entailed by physical reality
  2) But you don't need Platonism, just logicism, to get timelessness of math.
Not all math is reducible to logic, but much is.  Is logic also just social?
  3) You've been polite enough; though I wonder who your "most" excluded...--Joe

More information about the FOM mailing list