[FOM] Latest from Doron Zeilberger
d3uckner at btinternet.com
Sun Dec 18 07:06:01 EST 2005
> He [Zeilberger] is self-avowedly not a formal philospher,
That is clear from his use of the phrase 'exist independently of us'
which no one formally trained in (analytic) philosophy would have used
at least since the 1950's, owing to its unclarity and question-begging
nature, and generally bad reputation.
But if we translate 'Fs do not exist independently of us' as 'we are
inclined to think that there are Fs, but there aren't', and 'p is not
true independently of us' as 'we are inclined to think that p, but not
p', where does that leave us with the opinion, that we are silly
creatures to think that certain kinds of set 'exist independently of
It appears to be saying that certain silly humans think that there exist
certain sets, when in fact there are no such things.
But in that case, does that mean that certain mathematical statements
are simply false? Which ones?
It seems to me that certain mathematical statements are true
'independently of us', ie. They are simply true, regardless of what
anyone thinks. It is true that any 2 things plus any 2 (other) things
are equal to 4 things, for instance.
Once you take away the 'independently of us' idiom, where does Z's
opinion leave us? He appears to be saying that certain things that
certain mathematicians say, are not true, though these mathematicians
think they are. This is why I asked whether he was serious. I do
follow his column from time to time, and it's clear that many of the
things he says are with tongue firmly in cheek.
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