[FOM] MacLane
Bas Spitters
b.spitters at cs.ru.nl
Mon May 18 00:16:37 EDT 2009
Dear Arnon,
On Tuesday 12 May 2009 12:29:30 Arnon Avron wrote:
> In his Book "Mathematics: Form and function" Mac-Lane
> says somewhere that one of the main shortcomings of intuitionistic
> mathematics is that it ignores geometric intuitions (I am
> relying on my memory here, I do not have a copy of the book).
A quick search in MacLane's book gave me the following quotes:
p.404. `Thus alternative [intuitionistic] logics are closely related to
geometry!'
Perhaps this is the quote you were looking for.
p.443. `Brouwer's own earlier, non-formal intuitionism was based on an
assumption of the primacy of the natural numbers in Mathematics—and this flies
in the face of the observation that actual Mathematics effectively uses
natural numbers and real numbers as equally primary. The pillarstones
are geometry and arithmetic.'
I find this quote very surprising. Brouwer posed `two acts of intuitionism'. In
short, the first introduces the natural numbers, the second the real numbers.
E.g. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/intuitionism
I do not see how MacLane and Brouwer disagree.
More relevant for the current discussion and related to what Andrej is saying:
p.449 This realist view [on set theory] contrasts sharply with our views on
set theory. It seems to us that realism in sets faces great difficulties. First,
it is open to all the objections made above to ontological and to
epistemological Platonism. Second, that "apprehension" of sets is pretty
obscure, since abstract sets are not apprehended by our usual senses. Third,
there are many viable variants of the Zermelo-Fraenkel axioms, to say nothing
of intuitionistic set theory. Fourth, because of the artificial constructions
required this doctrine does not account well for the actual "objects" studied
by Mathematicians. For example, holomorphic functions of a complex variable
are central objects of Mathematics—and they are certainly not to be understood
well as "sets of ordered pairs".
Bas
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