Mathematical Realism And Its Discontents Essay, Research Paper

Reuben Hersh, a mathematician and mathematics philosopher, believes humans created math. He reasons that math is all in the heads of humans, and is a social phenomenon . According to Hersh math is not physical, not mental, but social . Math to Hersh is a creation of humans that would not be found in other regions of the universe. According to Hersh if there were other life forms out there in the universe they would not have the same math that we have.

Hersh agrees that there could very well be aliens out there in the universe who use mathematics, but he feels that their math would much different than ours. Others would argue and say that math is the same all around the universe. Mathematicians find it mined boggling that Hersh believes math is created. A mathematician can t imagine an alien not knowing two plus two is four. Hersh argues that all math isn t based on facts. He says there is no proof that two plus two is four, and when a mathematician argues with him by giving him math rules Hersh replies by saying I find it so astonishing that a good mathematician would so misunderstand the nature of proof.

Hersh goes on and uses many analogies that attempt to disprove mathematics, but mathematicians believe the math is something to be found, not created. Mathematicians describe math as something to observe and find not something to create and construct.

I thought this article to be very interesting. While reading this article I was swayed from one side to the other, both sides had reasonable arguments that kept me doubtful. Math can very much is considered a created thing because we have no way of knowing if it actually applies to areas out of our sight. But as long as math is in our minds we will never get away from it. As we travel the universe we will still see everything as math, whereas an alien might see some kind of different explanation for everything around them. Altogether math is an explanation for the universe that was created by humans, aliens in the universe might have a better or worse system of explanation but no judgement should be cast on their system. The system of mathematics is similar to the calendar system; there are different systems, but they all deal with the same principles.

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