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Old 12-06-2018, 12:32 PM   #51
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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Originally Posted by Aaron W. View Post
You have a significant argument to make here. You were arguing earlier that one-ness is a property of our perception, not a property of substance.



The "thing" that you are positing to exist is the following:



You are positing the existence of a method of organizing data in which counting is an incomprehensible process. I'm saying that we have lots of examples of independently derived organizational systems and they all have some sense of counting (at least for small numbers). You have zero examples of organizational systems in which counting is incomprehensible, and positing the existence of aliens that could potentially have a different system is a weak counter.




My point is that you seem to acknowledge that things are different from each other. You don't seem to deny that leaves are different, for example, since you acknowledge this concept of "two leaves" (even though a leaf itself may be an organizational construct). Playing up a religious pseudo-philosophic of the one-ness of the universe to deny mathematics is absurd given that even within cultures that have adopted some sense of one-ness of the universe they *STILL* developed mathematical thought.



I don't assert to know the answer. I disagree with your analysis and argumentation as being robust enough to carry even a small part of your position forward. It seems much more like denialism because you have yet to actually put forth any argument whatsoever to support your view. It's just a base assertion and an unwillingness to actually confront the consequences of your position.


Responding mainly to the point in bold, I think the way to start an inquiry is radical doubt like Descartes. So in making the point about aliens, it's not a weak counter, but a plausible one. And I don't see any reason to deny that math could be incomprehensible to them.

I'm not trying to prove my point. I'm trying to find a way to disprove it. I don't think anyone has done that completely.

Yes, you have pointed to more examples. That's not a sufficient condition to prove that math is universal. You could have a thousand examples but it still doesn't rule out that a) it's part of perception and b) that an alien couldn't be unable to understand math.

I think a is more likely than b. Given what I said about gaps being a precondition for math, than I think aliens would perceive math if they were ever able to interact with us.

As for acknowledging that things are different from each other, of course I do, as I perceive difference like all people. My point is that we don't know the noumena apart from the perceptual framework. It's possible the world we live in looks nothing like how we perceive it. We could be in a god's mind, and math is just a way to help us navigate things and nothing more.

And I think I have confronted the consequences of my assertion. As I said, I think if math is unreal, than the only logical conclusion is that all is one substance. If that is the case, we are bad perceivers, as we were badly equipped. All is illusion. This is not a happy conclusion. I think it is interesting. So far it's the only conclusion I have drawn.
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Old 12-06-2018, 12:39 PM   #52
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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I don't know. This is also of lesser interest to me than the other thread of conversation. Most of this is embedded in you making an arbitrary distinction of "one substance with many attributes." In some form, you're allowing distinctiveness, and that allows us to understand gaps between things and hence counting is a reasonable thing to have happen.

But under the everything-is-one mantra, do you think "zero" makes sense? I don't see why one could fail to conceive of the absence of something even if everything is the same substance.

I'll be clear, that was Spinoza's doctrine and I haven't read him, so I do not know anything about that. I just mentioned it as a way to add some credibility, and hoping maybe someone knew something about that. As far as I know, Spinoza is regarded as a genius, but I don't know what he said of math. I made a quick search and didn't find much, but I may look further. I agree that adding attributes seems to take away from the substance doctrine. I get skeptical if people make long logical chains, building big systems.

To your second point: I think it would be like a "do fish know they are in water" dilemma. We don't know what we don't know.
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Old 12-06-2018, 12:49 PM   #53
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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Yes, you have pointed to more examples. That's not a sufficient condition to prove that math is universal. You could have a thousand examples but it still doesn't rule out that a) it's part of perception and b) that an alien couldn't be unable to understand math.
I'll point out that your form of radical skepticism and attempting to prove a universal claim seems like a waste of time.

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I think a is more likely than b. Given what I said about gaps being a precondition for math, than I think aliens would perceive math if they were ever able to interact with us.
I'll remind you that your concept of gaps being a precondition for math is weird and unsupported. Being able to make an assertion is different from being able to make a meaningful or reasonable assertion.

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As for acknowledging that things are different from each other, of course I do, as I perceive difference like all people. My point is that we don't know the noumena apart from the perceptual framework. It's possible the world we live in looks nothing like how we perceive it. We could be in a god's mind, and math is just a way to help us navigate things and nothing more.
Okay. But none of this even begins to tell you about the realness or unrealness of math any more than it tells you about the realness or unrealness of literally anything apart from "you" in the Cartesian sense of knowing that "you" exist.

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And I think I have confronted the consequences of my assertion. As I said, I think if math is unreal, than the only logical conclusion is that all is one substance.
But this isn't even true. I've pointed you to an article about mathematical fictionalism, which rejects the realness of math, and that's not at all a consequence in their view. The ontology of mathematical objects does not seem to automatically imply anything about the ontology of the rest of the universe.

Maybe you're at a point where you need to do more reading so that you have a broader vocabulary to talk about this stuff instead of continuing to speculate off the top of your head. The implication "math is not real implies that the universe is one substance" is pretty much nonsensical. It's the sort of thing that I would classify as "stoned college student philosophy." It may sound deep or feel deep, but it's actually really shallow and stupid.
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Old 12-06-2018, 02:59 PM   #54
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

Two truth values in logic.

According to Kant, experience must be in space and time. Since our understanding of both is mathematical, won't the aliens have a similar understanding?
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Old 12-06-2018, 09:08 PM   #55
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

Math is way of describing the universe that will always emerge similarly in any intelligent beings anywhere in the universe. It all starts with two very real observations: quantities (counting) and binary states. If those aren't "real" then nothing is.

It's the only universal language there can possibly be.
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Old 12-07-2018, 01:09 AM   #56
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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I'll point out that your form of radical skepticism and attempting to prove a universal claim seems like a waste of time.



I'll remind you that your concept of gaps being a precondition for math is weird and unsupported. Being able to make an assertion is different from being able to make a meaningful or reasonable assertion.



Okay. But none of this even begins to tell you about the realness or unrealness of math any more than it tells you about the realness or unrealness of literally anything apart from "you" in the Cartesian sense of knowing that "you" exist.



But this isn't even true. I've pointed you to an article about mathematical fictionalism, which rejects the realness of math, and that's not at all a consequence in their view. The ontology of mathematical objects does not seem to automatically imply anything about the ontology of the rest of the universe.

Maybe you're at a point where you need to do more reading so that you have a broader vocabulary to talk about this stuff instead of continuing to speculate off the top of your head. The implication "math is not real implies that the universe is one substance" is pretty much nonsensical. It's the sort of thing that I would classify as "stoned college student philosophy." It may sound deep or feel deep, but it's actually really shallow and stupid.


1. Numbers are abstractions from objects we perceive
1a. We evolved to perceive difference in objects; we learned to count, as a way to survive
2. Numbers do not exist in nature. I cannot perceive a number.
3. If all were one substance, then numbers would not exist, as a number is an abstraction stemming from the difference of objects.


Do you see a problem with the above logic?

I did read some of the articles of what others thought. I would not place all my judgement in the hands of other people. Just because it's written elsewhere is no substitute for thought. It's also an appeal to authority to point to articles and say, "see, they haven't said anything about what you are saying, so you are wrong." You should try thinking things through on your own as opposed to following the threads of others...
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Old 12-07-2018, 01:44 AM   #57
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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Originally Posted by esspoker View Post
1. Numbers are abstractions from objects we perceive
1a. We evolved to perceive difference in objects; we learned to count, as a way to survive
2. Numbers do not exist in nature. I cannot perceive a number.
3. If all were one substance, then numbers would not exist, as a number is an abstraction stemming from the difference of objects.


Do you see a problem with the above logic?
Claim 1 can be challenged. Platonism is the claim that numbers are real objects and not just mental objects. That is, numbers would exist even if humans didn't.

Claim 1a is a reminder that evolutionary arguments are really difficult to pull off effectively. A lot of them (like this one) are narratives that we just kind of make up because it's convenient to assert that evolution does X if X is somehow useful to us. It's either true by assumption or it requires substantial argumentation.

Claim 2 can also be challenged. It can be argued that you perceive the number 2 every time you are mentally aware of two objects. We know this because you know when there are two objects in front of you and you know when there is a different number of objects in front of you.

Claim 3 relies on the weird "substance" argument. Without any clarification on what you mean by that, there's no reason to accept that it's even sensible. You're arguing things like "substance" is cannot be distinguished while attributes can, but that still opens the door for distinctions to allow for separation and so I don't even know what you're actually trying to claim by making a substance argument.

Also, the whole structure can be challenged. There is no clear logical flow to this thing. My understanding is that you're trying to prove that "If all is one substance, then numbers don't exist." Shouldn't you be starting from "Suppose all is one substance"? And shouldn't the claim that numbers don't exist NOT be your assertion in point 2?

Quote:
I did read some of the articles of what others thought. I would not place all my judgement in the hands of other people. Just because it's written elsewhere is no substitute for thought. It's also an appeal to authority to point to articles and say, "see, they haven't said anything about what you are saying, so you are wrong." You should try thinking things through on your own as opposed to following the threads of others...
I don't argue that you should simply accept their claims and arguments because they're people who have clearly put way more time into this than you. But willful ignorance is something to be avoided, and if you're going to persist down that pathway then there's little that can save you from yourself.

Based on the level of argumentation you've presented, I've thought about this far more than you have, and I've pointed out the various flaws in your position. You can take it or leave it, as my beliefs on the matter don't actually have any conceivable influence in your actual life. This is all just stuff for the brain.

But I would definitely encourage you to try to be less ignorant and make better arguments. If you think your argument above is unassailable, you're just wrong.
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Old 12-07-2018, 01:57 AM   #58
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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Originally Posted by esspoker View Post
1. Numbers are abstractions from objects we perceive
1a. We evolved to perceive difference in objects; we learned to count, as a way to survive
2. Numbers do not exist in nature. I cannot perceive a number.
3. If all were one substance, then numbers would not exist, as a number is an abstraction stemming from the difference of objects.
I honestly don't know how to clean this up. Here's my best attempt.

1. (Premise) All is one substance
2. (Premise) Numbers are abstractions based on the perception of differences
3. (Premise) The only things that exist are things that can be perceived.
4. We cannot perceive differences (from 1)
5. Numbers cannot be perceived (from 4 and 2)
6. Numbers do not exist (from 5 and 3)

But this can still be challenged all over the place.

1 is not obviously true.

2 is a claim about the ontology of numbers, which can be challenged by Platonism.

3 is going to boil down to your concept of "perception" and "exists." In any event, this can easily be challenged.

4 doesn't actually follow from 1 without clarifying on what is meant by "one substance."

But then 5 and 6 should be in the clear.
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Old 12-07-2018, 03:38 AM   #59
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

Last i checked either one posts or not right? This thread either exists or it doesnt. So up yours to anyone denying math being very very real and embedded in nature so to speak with 2 and all kinds of other integers because i can design any integer bound state quantum systems like that lol.

How many isotopes Oxygen has? Do you know that they follow different trajectories when ionized moving in magnetic fields ? What exactly is that for?
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Old 12-07-2018, 07:55 AM   #60
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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Claim 1 can be challenged. Platonism is the claim that numbers are real objects and not just mental objects. That is, numbers would exist even if humans didn't.

Claim 1a is a reminder that evolutionary arguments are really difficult to pull off effectively. A lot of them (like this one) are narratives that we just kind of make up because it's convenient to assert that evolution does X if X is somehow useful to us. It's either true by assumption or it requires substantial argumentation.

Claim 2 can also be challenged. It can be argued that you perceive the number 2 every time you are mentally aware of two objects. We know this because you know when there are two objects in front of you and you know when there is a different number of objects in front of you.

Claim 3 relies on the weird "substance" argument. Without any clarification on what you mean by that, there's no reason to accept that it's even sensible. You're arguing things like "substance" is cannot be distinguished while attributes can, but that still opens the door for distinctions to allow for separation and so I don't even know what you're actually trying to claim by making a substance argument.

Also, the whole structure can be challenged. There is no clear logical flow to this thing. My understanding is that you're trying to prove that "If all is one substance, then numbers don't exist." Shouldn't you be starting from "Suppose all is one substance"? And shouldn't the claim that numbers don't exist NOT be your assertion in point 2?



I don't argue that you should simply accept their claims and arguments because they're people who have clearly put way more time into this than you. But willful ignorance is something to be avoided, and if you're going to persist down that pathway then there's little that can save you from yourself.

Based on the level of argumentation you've presented, I've thought about this far more than you have, and I've pointed out the various flaws in your position. You can take it or leave it, as my beliefs on the matter don't actually have any conceivable influence in your actual life. This is all just stuff for the brain.

But I would definitely encourage you to try to be less ignorant and make better arguments. If you think your argument above is unassailable, you're just wrong.

Claim 1: Platonism starts from the assertion that ideas exist. I understand Platonism and that you are a Platonist. It's a first principle from which many other points follow. It's impossible to prove Platonism or prove that math doesn't exist, using pure reason. You're not really countering, you're just saying "there is an alternative viewpoint," and I completely agree that Platonism is a school of thought.

Claim 1a. My claim doesn't seem very controversial to me. I don't know all the literature on this, but I can imagine a single-celled organism is awful at math and a chimp is pretty good at math.

Claim 2: This should be fleshed out. There is a sense in which we perceive the number 2, I agree. We do not directly sense the number 2 (Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see how anyone could make that claim). We immediately sense the objects themselves. Then, an extrapolation process goes into effect. From sensation to ideation, several steps take place. My claim is that it is possible that in this process, data is being transformed in a way to make it intelligible to us. Twoness makes sense to me. It works well with my brain. It does not necessarily have to do with the "thing-in-itself." I think the burden of proof here is on the person who thinks numbers do exist as things-in-themselves.

Claim 3: I don't know why you think this is so weird, as it has a name called monism and I'm not the first person to think of it. Substance is a pretty common concept in philosophy. The problem with it is that I can't prove it, placing the limits on perception as I have, going back to Kant. I'm making a claim that, if math doesn't exist, then all is one substance.

My argument here is, math is born out of differentiation between objects (math is essentially counting, which is only necessary when distinguishing objects). If math exists, then variation exist. If math does not exist, then it is because variation does not exist. If variation exists, math must exist.
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Old 12-07-2018, 09:26 AM   #61
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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Originally Posted by lastcardcharlie View Post
Two truth values in logic.

According to Kant, experience must be in space and time. Since our understanding of both is mathematical, won't the aliens have a similar understanding?
I'm not sure you're saying that right, or it depends what you mean. I think for Kant all experience is shaped by time and space. Time and space provide the structure for our experience.
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Old 12-07-2018, 09:46 AM   #62
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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1. Numbers are abstractions from objects we perceive
You're homage to Spinoza is admirable.

But you're beating a dead horse.

Are relations between objects also just abstractions? Why stop at numbers?

C'mon man.
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Old 12-07-2018, 10:17 AM   #63
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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Originally Posted by masque de Z View Post
Last i checked either one posts or not right? This thread either exists or it doesnt. So up yours to anyone denying math being very very real and embedded in nature so to speak with 2 and all kinds of other integers because i can design any integer bound state quantum systems like that lol.

How many isotopes Oxygen has? Do you know that they follow different trajectories when ionized moving in magnetic fields ? What exactly is that for?


I agree with masque de Z. Math is in the fabric of the universe. This should not require us to observe, and pass judgment, to be true. Math was there, before us, and will be there after we are gone.
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Old 12-07-2018, 10:47 AM   #64
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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My argument here is, math is born out of differentiation between objects (math is essentially counting, which is only necessary when distinguishing objects). If math exists, then variation exist. If math does not exist, then it is because variation does not exist. If variation exists, math must exist.
So now you've made your life even harder because now you have math if and only if differentiation of objects. You've now turned an implication into a biconditional.

You asked whether there were problems with your logic. I presented you some problems. And then you decided to make things more problematic for yourself. The evidence continues to point in the direction that you probably don't really know what you're talking about.
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Old 12-07-2018, 10:59 AM   #65
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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Claim 1: Platonism starts from the assertion that ideas exist. I understand Platonism and that you are a Platonist. It's a first principle from which many other points follow. It's impossible to prove Platonism or prove that math doesn't exist, using pure reason. You're not really countering, you're just saying "there is an alternative viewpoint," and I completely agree that Platonism is a school of thought.
Platonism doesn't "start" from there. Platonism is that statement, but that statement isn't blindly starting from that claim. I come to my conclusions about the realness of mathematical ideas from observational facts about the universe that point in that direction.

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Claim 1a. My claim doesn't seem very controversial to me. I don't know all the literature on this, but I can imagine a single-celled organism is awful at math and a chimp is pretty good at math.
As phrased, it's less controversial than your DNA claim from earlier. But as I said, you think it's not controversial because you're accepting poorly-formed evolutionary arguments. Notice that single-celled organisms are surviving just fine without counting.

There are also anumeric cultures that exist out there (cultures without counting) and they evolved just fine without numbers in their language and only vague number concepts.

It not clear how this particular "evolutionary adaptation" is actually helping us survive. You have not cited particular obstacles that specifically distinguish counting as favored, and anything you come up with is something you've made up off the top of your head.

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Claim 2: This should be fleshed out. There is a sense in which we perceive the number 2, I agree.
Notice how you're now hedging your concepts. "Number can't be perceived.... well... there's a sense in which we perceive them... but..." This is not good for your position and for presenting a sense of logical consistency.

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Claim 3: I don't know why you think this is so weird, as it has a name called monism and I'm not the first person to think of it.
Monism has many forms. There are different senses in which that "one-ness" is understood. The issue is that you have not really declared what you mean by it, and it's that slipperiness that's weird about your position: "Everything is one substance, so there is no way to distinguish anything... but yet I can distinguish that there are two objects in some sense... but that's not really what I mean here."

So until you are willing to declare the meaning of these words that you're using, you're just talking gibberish.
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Old 12-07-2018, 12:27 PM   #66
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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Originally Posted by VeeDDzz` View Post
You're homage to Spinoza is admirable.

But you're beating a dead horse.

Are relations between objects also just abstractions? Why stop at numbers?

C'mon man.
Good point. We may as well question if anything is really real. Good question btw

As long we don't think we can put in whatever answer that suits us, then it's a bad question.

For us small humans even what's normally called "reality" is usually a big enough challenge. Let us even get the abstraction right, if it is one.

The risk is this thread is RGT, after all. The favored way to put in whatever answers that feel to suit.

Last edited by plaaynde; 12-07-2018 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 12-07-2018, 03:34 PM   #67
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

Of course math is an abstraction of reality

It's also contingent on content, and not the other way around

Mathematics is independent of humans, but it's not independent of mind
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Old 12-07-2018, 04:02 PM   #68
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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Platonism doesn't "start" from there. Platonism is that statement, but that statement isn't blindly starting from that claim. I come to my conclusions about the realness of mathematical ideas from observational facts about the universe that point in that direction.



As phrased, it's less controversial than your DNA claim from earlier. But as I said, you think it's not controversial because you're accepting poorly-formed evolutionary arguments. Notice that single-celled organisms are surviving just fine without counting.

There are also anumeric cultures that exist out there (cultures without counting) and they evolved just fine without numbers in their language and only vague number concepts.

It not clear how this particular "evolutionary adaptation" is actually helping us survive. You have not cited particular obstacles that specifically distinguish counting as favored, and anything you come up with is something you've made up off the top of your head.



Notice how you're now hedging your concepts. "Number can't be perceived.... well... there's a sense in which we perceive them... but..." This is not good for your position and for presenting a sense of logical consistency.



Monism has many forms. There are different senses in which that "one-ness" is understood. The issue is that you have not really declared what you mean by it, and it's that slipperiness that's weird about your position: "Everything is one substance, so there is no way to distinguish anything... but yet I can distinguish that there are two objects in some sense... but that's not really what I mean here."

So until you are willing to declare the meaning of these words that you're using, you're just talking gibberish.

Responding to the point in bold, notice how you took my intention to flesh out a concept (for both our sakes) as "lack of consistency" and then attacked the straw man. I never made the claim that people don't have the concept of twoness in their minds. You must have inferred that along the way. Logical consistency is important but not as important as actually working out the concepts. You ignored everything about the thing-in-itself. Is it because you don't have an answer to that?

"It's not clear how using math has been to our evolutionary advantage." Come on. Really?

If you can prove math exists, go for it. I never set out to prove math does not exist. But, as you claim you can prove math exists, I'm ready to hear it.

Last edited by esspoker; 12-07-2018 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 12-07-2018, 04:07 PM   #69
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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Originally Posted by VeeDDzz` View Post
You're homage to Spinoza is admirable.

But you're beating a dead horse.

Are relations between objects also just abstractions? Why stop at numbers?

C'mon man.


If relations between objects exist in spacetime, which is a function of our intuition, then they might exist, they might not. Either way, they are necessary for our comprehension.
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Old 12-07-2018, 04:10 PM   #70
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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So now you've made your life even harder because now you have math if and only if differentiation of objects. You've now turned an implication into a biconditional.

You asked whether there were problems with your logic. I presented you some problems. And then you decided to make things more problematic for yourself. The evidence continues to point in the direction that you probably don't really know what you're talking about.
Ignorance is always the starting point... knowledge of ignorance...
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Old 12-07-2018, 04:12 PM   #71
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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Good point. We may as well question if anything is really real.
Yes. You are on to something.
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Old 12-07-2018, 04:20 PM   #72
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

I'd say quantum entanglement gives a hint of that our "reality" is really limited. But that's another thread. We need to be stringent when analyzing what we can though, that's the way forward, and opens new doors, not closing them. Let's get the abstractions, but also what may be beyond.
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Old 12-07-2018, 04:24 PM   #73
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

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Originally Posted by esspoker View Post
Generally anything you can sense, but that is thrown into question also as to its true nature. The problem is the mind's filter keeps us from knowing really what is real (noumena).
If you are speaking to "sense" in the conventional are you meaning sight, sound,taste, touch, etc.... ?
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Old 12-07-2018, 05:17 PM   #74
esspoker
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

Quote:
Originally Posted by carlo View Post
If you are speaking to "sense" in the conventional are you meaning sight, sound,taste, touch, etc.... ?
Yes
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Old 12-07-2018, 05:50 PM   #75
carlo
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Re: The unreality of mathematics

Quote:
Originally Posted by esspoker View Post
Yes
So you're saying, unless you can "sense" it, it is not real ?
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