FOM: Re: Friedman 29 Aug 2002

David Isles isles at
Fri Aug 30 20:38:25 EDT 2002

Friedman's six points in his note of August 29 are, as usual, clearly
stated and very stimulating. But my reaction to point #3 viz."..set
theory and its fragments appear to be the only fully
rigorous....systematization that we have throughout the whole
intellectual landscape. Its rivals, e.g. Newtonian mechanics...etc, fall
apart, in comparison, on the fully rigorous side and/or on the wide
ranging/powerful side." was one of sceptical doubt. Perhaps the
systematization offered by set theory only seems so satisfactory
because, when it comes to describing the "structure of mathematics", our
understanding is so tentative and incomplete (rather like Plato's atomic
theory in the Timaeus.) The fragmentary appearance of other
systematizations of experience may simply reflect a more  accurate
understanding of and familiarity with their subject matter.

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