What is a number?
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20-08-2016, 05:15 PM
RE: What is a number?
(20-08-2016 02:35 PM)Dworkin Wrote:  
(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.

I'm not saying it's not real. I'm saying that the concept we're arguing over is not coherently defined, and that prevents us from having a fruitful discussion. It's like arguing over whether zarks are real without first having a clue about what the word "zark" means. Maybe it refers to something real or maybe it doesn't. The first step has to be establishing the definition... any discussion without doing so is LITERALLY meaningless.
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20-08-2016, 05:23 PM
RE: What is a number?
(20-08-2016 02:47 PM)Dworkin Wrote:  
(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.

Thanks. I'm getting better, but it's a slow recovery; I've had it for 10 days now.
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20-08-2016, 06:31 PM
RE: What is a number?
(18-08-2016 09:15 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(18-08-2016 09:00 PM)Fireball Wrote:  OK, I just got off the phone with my middle son, after a 40 minute phone call. He has the same cold I have, more's the pity. Anyway, I think it is a little anthropocentric to say that a form depends on human sentience for it's perception and interpretation. The logarithmic spiral that describes the chambered nautilis' form was discovered and described by humankind, but existed for Megayears prior to our existence.

Without Fibonacci there is no logarithmic spiral. It never existed before Fibonacci. That's what I'm saying. There was something there but it wasn't a logarithmic spiral.... to be fair I am batshit insane and may be a little tipsy.

That reminds me of the theory that the earth used to be flat until Columbus decided to prove it wasn't,and other similar shit I heard from the New Age peeps.
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20-08-2016, 06:37 PM
RE: What is a number?
.......

#sigh
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20-08-2016, 06:59 PM (This post was last modified: 20-08-2016 07:24 PM by Fireball.)
RE: What is a number?
(20-08-2016 06:31 PM)Born Again Pagan Wrote:  
(18-08-2016 09:15 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  Without Fibonacci there is no logarithmic spiral. It never existed before Fibonacci. That's what I'm saying. There was something there but it wasn't a logarithmic spiral.... to be fair I am batshit insane and may be a little tipsy.

That reminds me of the theory that the earth used to be flat until Columbus decided to prove it wasn't,and other similar shit I heard from the New Age peeps.

Other people knew the earth was round, but the RCC suppressed that knowledge for the ignorant peasants. They used astronomers and mathematicians to their own ends. Going against that hierarchy could get you roasted and worse. I'm really glad that the RCC has been tamped down. The spiral did exist, and mankind's name for it is logarithmic. I would, however expect any other sentience to use the concept, but not necessarily call it "logarithmic". Once their mathematics progressed to the point where the term they used for the concept of "logarithm" would be used. Fibonacci's description of the logarithmic spiral did not depend on logarithms, IIRC, that mathematics was developed later.
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21-08-2016, 03:32 PM
RE: What is a number?
(20-08-2016 05:15 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  I'm not saying it's not real. I'm saying that the concept we're arguing over is not coherently defined, and that prevents us from having a fruitful discussion.

Reltzik,

Our exchange is both interesting and boring at the same time. Smile As mentioned, if the question 'What is a number' was coherently defined then there would be no fruitful discussion to have. That is why we are asking the question.

I think this is the major problem with philosophy at large. Can reality be coherently defined? Well the theists think so, and also the atheist materialists have a plucky stab at it. These are philosophical reductions. Of course, we might suspect that philosophy just is the hopeless attempt to define the indefinable, which is why philosophers are left picking over tiny scraps of reason in this mysterious reality that we are mysteriously in.

I am reminded of the man who put a pair of gloves into a drawer and then took them out again with a gesture of surprise. No problem of definition there, but - Philosopher?

D.
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21-08-2016, 04:34 PM
RE: What is a number?
(21-08-2016 03:32 PM)Dworkin Wrote:  
(20-08-2016 05:15 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  I'm not saying it's not real. I'm saying that the concept we're arguing over is not coherently defined, and that prevents us from having a fruitful discussion.

The theists think so, and also the atheist materialists have a plucky stab at it. These are philosophical reductions. Of course, we might suspect that philosophy just is the hopeless attempt to define the indefinable, which is why philosophers are left picking over tiny scraps of reason in this mysterious reality that we are mysteriously in.

I am reminded of the man who put a pair of gloves into a drawer and then took them out again with a gesture of surprise. No problem of definition there, but - Philosopher?

D.

I don't think it's a problem of defining the indefinable. I think it's a problem of trying to make one tool do too many jobs at once.

My approach to these things is, as I said, based on motivation. Let's go with the word "relevance". What's our motivation for examining this issue? Please tell me, why would we care about this?

I'm not saying that we don't, or that there's no reason to. We do, and mabye there is. Rather, I ask because I think holding our purpose in mind is a very valuable guide for untangling these issues.
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04-09-2016, 11:56 AM
RE: What is a number?
(21-08-2016 04:34 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  What's our motivation for examining this issue? Please tell me, why would we care about this?
Fair question. I think the motivation for this question lies in wanting to understand the nature of reality. For if we find a category of things that are part of reality from one perspective but not from another, this might hold clues about the nature of reality itself. So what is the relation between numbers and reality? Yes, we can invent numbers and such and explain them as a construct of human imagination, but that is just one side of the coin. Numbers are not only a passive byproduct of reality. For numbers and more generally math and logic also is used to explain reality rather succesfully. And that, I think is the real enigma. As Eugene Wigner once put it: the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences. It might point to a reality in which information (and not particles, waves or fields) is the basic component of reality. So to ask the question is motivated by the same thing that's drinving scientific understanding, not just by semantics.
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04-09-2016, 07:23 PM
RE: What is a number?
This is a good number.




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04-09-2016, 07:38 PM
RE: What is a number?
(04-09-2016 07:23 PM)Banjo Wrote:  This is a good number.




As is this.

54-46 was my number, was my number, man
Right now, someone else has that number
54-46 was my number, well
Right now, someone else has that number




Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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