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March 17th, 2011

Mathematics is a language, nothing but

If someone says to me that mathematics is not a language, and that ‘2+3=5’ apart from language, I demand of him, ‘Show me "2". Show me "3". Show me "2" and "3" making "5"’. He will not be able to show, only to tell.

If you want to retort that the whole of mathematics or a true statement of mathematics describes some structure in the world that is not language, then your retort is exactly my point. But structure in the world cannot produce mathematics without intelligent beings to do the production. A nautilus shell is not an analysis of anything – it is structured matter – but a mathematical description of a nautilus shell is the beginning of an analysis.

What makes mathematics special among languages is not that it is ‘more’ than language, but that it is exactly analyzable.

A question for the ages

Where do abstractions reside?

The answer is simple, and moves one towards a spirit of humanity, though it has an often missed aspect without which one descends towards the ‘opposite’ of solipsism.

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