What is a number?
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18-08-2016, 11:20 PM
RE: What is a number?
(18-08-2016 10:10 PM)Fireball Wrote:  
(18-08-2016 09:38 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  hmmm .... Consider ... don't think I'd stipulate to that.

Bolding mine. I would. Further, I would say that the entirety of mathematics is bound up in the structure of the universe, and further, that the description of the universe using mathematics doesn't necessarily depend on human sentience. Whatever human sentience actually is. Of course, I'm sick with a cold and blowing yellow chunks out of my trachea (and listening to Black Sabbath), so what would I know? I'll hopefully wake up with no fever tomorrow and regret this whole exchange. I haven't been this sick in at least five years. Censored

I agree..

#sigh
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19-08-2016, 12:40 AM
RE: What is a number?
I tread with trepidaceous steps into an arena that holds horrors for me, maths and philosophy!

But I would like to ask is, in the esteemed opinion of youse guys, if there is any parallel here with "the sound of the falling tree" problem?

Does it need a human nearby, for a falling tree to make a sound? Or, if that human is merely within hearing distance, not in sight, can he/she be sure that the sound they heard is that of a falling tree with 100% certainty?

Tomorrow is precious, don't ruin it by fouling up today.
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19-08-2016, 07:23 AM
RE: What is a number?
(19-08-2016 12:40 AM)Gloucester Wrote:  I tread with trepidaceous steps into an arena that holds horrors for me, maths and philosophy!

But I would like to ask is, in the esteemed opinion of youse guys, if there is any parallel here with "the sound of the falling tree" problem?

Does it need a human nearby, for a falling tree to make a sound? Or, if that human is merely within hearing distance, not in sight, can he/she be sure that the sound they heard is that of a falling tree with 100% certainty?

Some, yes, in that this argument is mostly semantic and that some of the positions depend on the recognition/comprehension of the thing being discussed.

But there's also a (potentially key) difference that the noise of a tree falling in a forest is very much a real and physical thing, while a number is abstract in every sense.
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19-08-2016, 09:34 AM
RE: What is a number?
(19-08-2016 12:40 AM)Gloucester Wrote:  I tread with trepidaceous steps into an arena that holds horrors for me, maths and philosophy!

But I would like to ask is, in the esteemed opinion of youse guys, if there is any parallel here with "the sound of the falling tree" problem?

Does it need a human nearby, for a falling tree to make a sound? Or, if that human is merely within hearing distance, not in sight, can he/she be sure that the sound they heard is that of a falling tree with 100% certainty?

Hearing is the form in which we Humans perceive sound. In order to perceive it a sound must exist first. It is not dependent on our perception of it for its existence. It's the other way round. Our perception of it depends on its existence. This notion that a sound doesn't exist unless someone is around to perceive it reminds me of a line from the movie MYSTERY MEN. Its a movie about a bunch of people who claim to have super powers. The invisible man says that he's only invisible when people aren't looking at him.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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19-08-2016, 05:36 PM
RE: What is a number?
(19-08-2016 12:40 AM)Gloucester Wrote:  ... if there is any parallel here with "the sound of the falling tree" problem?

It's not a parallel . It's the point. For a tree falling in a forest to make a sound it requires a receiver called an ear and a brain to interpret it. The falling tree may make something without an ear to listen, but it is not a "sound". If there are no ears there are no sounds. ....

#sigh
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19-08-2016, 06:59 PM
RE: What is a number?
(19-08-2016 05:36 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(19-08-2016 12:40 AM)Gloucester Wrote:  ... if there is any parallel here with "the sound of the falling tree" problem?

It's not a parallel . It's the point. For a tree falling in a forest to make a sound it requires a receiver called an ear and a brain to interpret it. The falling tree may make something without an ear to listen, but it is not a "sound". If there are no ears there are no sounds. ....

I'm out.
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20-08-2016, 01:41 AM
RE: What is a number?
(18-08-2016 04:22 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  .... I think whether Platonic forms exist in that sense hinges on the semantic question of how one defines the concept of existence, which, frankly, is something philosophers have tended to do a very poor job of. They seem to just assume if that what it means for something to exist is agreed upon by all (when it clearly isn't) and proceed as if it's an axiom.

Reltzik,

I agree with you, except that I don't blame philosophers for the nature of philosophy. As my old prof used to say "If you think philosophy is easy, then you are not doing it."

The present thread is about "the concept of existence". A universally accepted definition of the same would answer the OP question and end the debate. I have attempted to move the debate on a little by positing 'metaphysical existence' as a possibility. As so often in philosophy, this position would raise many further questions, of particular interest to atheists I suspect.

D.
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20-08-2016, 06:03 AM (This post was last modified: 20-08-2016 06:08 AM by Reltzik.)
RE: What is a number?
(20-08-2016 01:41 AM)Dworkin Wrote:  
(18-08-2016 04:22 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  .... I think whether Platonic forms exist in that sense hinges on the semantic question of how one defines the concept of existence, which, frankly, is something philosophers have tended to do a very poor job of. They seem to just assume if that what it means for something to exist is agreed upon by all (when it clearly isn't) and proceed as if it's an axiom.

Reltzik,

I agree with you, except that I don't blame philosophers for the nature of philosophy. As my old prof used to say "If you think philosophy is easy, then you are not doing it."

The present thread is about "the concept of existence". A universally accepted definition of the same would answer the OP question and end the debate. I have attempted to move the debate on a little by positing 'metaphysical existence' as a possibility. As so often in philosophy, this position would raise many further questions, of particular interest to atheists I suspect.

D.

So my view is a mix of nominative and... pragmatic? No, philosophy already uses that word for something else. I need a word that says "my answer depends on my motivation for knowing". Relevance, maybe.

What is our definition of existence? Whether abstract numbers meet this definition depends on what the definition is. So this whole debate here is really about the question, "Which definition should we be using?" To which I say, it depends on how we want to apply the knowledge. In this case, there seems to be no reason to have the debate at all. It's not exploring any quality of numbers... it's simply arguing over arbitrary semantic choices.
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20-08-2016, 02:35 PM
RE: What is a number?
(20-08-2016 06:03 AM)Reltzik Wrote:  What is our definition of existence? Whether abstract numbers meet this definition depends on what the definition is. So this whole debate here is really about the question, "Which definition should we be using?" To which I say, it depends on how we want to apply the knowledge. In this case, there seems to be no reason to have the debate at all. It's not exploring any quality of numbers... it's simply arguing over arbitrary semantic choices.

Reltzik,

I have often suspected that the argument from 'semantics' is the argument from 'not real'. You may not be meaning it this way, but if you are I will respectfully pass.

D.
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20-08-2016, 02:47 PM
RE: What is a number?
(18-08-2016 10:10 PM)Fireball Wrote:  I would say that the entirety of mathematics is bound up in the structure of the universe, and further, that the description of the universe using mathematics doesn't necessarily depend on human sentience. Whatever human sentience actually is. Of course, I'm sick with a cold and blowing yellow chunks out of my trachea (and listening to Black Sabbath), so what would I know? I'll hopefully wake up with no fever tomorrow and regret this whole exchange. I haven't been this sick in at least five years. Censored

Fireball,

Sorry to hear that you are sick just now; hope its getting better.

On the philosophy, I tend to agree with your view. There are a lot of subjectivists around these days (particularly on the web), but I haven't been able to buy that notion. Still wondering on the ramifications of not doing so.

D.
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