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Author  Topic: Math's Arbitrary NonNecessary NecessarilyDisconnected Conventional Link to Reality  
Jon Inactive Member 
In the thread "0.99999~ = 1 ?" (Message 1), talk has turned somewhat to a topic slightly different from that first introduced and proposed. Specifically, the issue at point is no longer the distinctness of two numbers, but the foundations of the entire system of Mathematics (what I called MATHSYSTEM) in relation to the real world (what I called REALWORLDSYSTEM).
As I stated in Message 87
A consequence of some proofs in Message 110:
... which was a consequence of the proofs explained in Message 89:
... along with the definition of REAL I had been given as being ultimately dependent on the MATHSYSTEM (see posts in reply to me, especially by Dr. A.), and as RAZD concurred in Message 117:
... the MATHSYSTEM appears to have no necessary relationship to the REALWORLDSYSTEM. As was shown in my reply to Dr. A, which was Message 120:
... were there a necessary relationship between the MATHSYSTEM and the REALWORLDSYSTEM, they would both paradoxically collapse in upon themselves—I mean, the paradox related to their existences would cause them to cease existing. In Message 123, Rrhain writes in response to my question whether there is any reality in the real numbers:
And that, to most mathematicians:
So, I would like to challenge any mathematicians who hold this view to support such. I am not convinced that the MATHSYSTEM is necessarily linked to the reality that it describes. As I pointed out in Message 120, certain internal operators of the MATHSYSTEM which function to tweak its failures to match the REALWORLDSYSTEM so it can be a better describer are part of the evidence I will offer initially that the MATHSYSTEM could not be a necessary representative of the REALWORLDSYSTEM, i.e., it does not represent it by necessity, but rather by convention. Or, in the words of Rrhain, I'm going to pull a Bert. Jon Edited by Jon, : No reason given. [O]ur tiny halfkilogram rock just compeltely fucked up our starship.  Rahvin


Admin Director Posts: 12653 From: EvC Forum Joined: Member Rating: 2.9 
Thread copied here from the Math's Arbitrary NonNecessary NecessarilyDisconnected Conventional Link to Reality thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.


Dr Adequate Member Posts: 16107 Joined: Member Rating: 8.3 
Your decision to write in a language of your own invention makes your point unnecessarily obscure.
However, in plain English we may note that it is trivially the case that the proposition that a mathematical structure forms a good model for some aspect of reality is necessarily a scientific theory to be confirmed or disconfirmed by observation and experiment; a question which is extrinsic to the mathematics as such. Whether or not you find this observation helpful depends, of course, on what the heck it is that you're talking about.


Jon Inactive Member 
Ahh, and it is the fact that Mathematics—like a scientific theory composed of words in their structure, the units of Language—is falsifiable—like a scientific theory composed of words in their structure, like any Linguistic proposition, i.e., a proposition which relies on Linguistic modes for its conveyance—that shows the arbitrarily disconnected, conventional (i.e., not by necessity) link that Math has with Reality. In an Empirical epistemology^{1}, Reality^{2}—and all things which follow by necessity from it—is unfalsifiable. Thus Mathematics—like Language—, being falsifiable, cannot be said—within an Empirical epistemology—to follow necessarily from Reality. And if it is the case that it does not follow by necessity, then any 'following' it appears to do is not part of the epistemological certainty that is Reality within an Empirical epistemology and is therefore not 'knowable' and true but merely an illusion or coincidence, or, in the case of Math, a result of agreedupon convention. Now, of course, one could hold to a Mathematical epistemology, in which numbers and their operators were the only things real, with all else being illusory, from the ground below to the very Self. In such a case—really any case—the link between Math and Reality would be completely unnecessary^{3} to even exist let alone be consistent. One may also attempt to hold to both a Mathematical and Empirical epistemology with the condition that one would have to show the two epistemologies to be consistent both within each other and in relation to each other else be caught in a contradiction, or discard the entire pursuit of the epistemologically certain altogether. So, as far as Math and Reality go, our options are rather limited to: Choosing 1 is silly, whether correct or not, it gets us nowhere; choosing 3 or 4 is fine as each one is perfectly consistent within itself, but also admits to a nonnecessary link between Math and Reality; choosing 2 requires evidence of crossconsistency. Obviously I stand at 4, maintaining Math's link to Reality to be conventional; this thread is for folk who stand at 2 to back up that stance. Jon [O]ur tiny halfkilogram rock just compeltely fucked up our starship.  Rahvin


New Cat's Eye Inactive Member 
Did you know that if you type </hr>, it becomes a: ?


nwr Member Posts: 5587 From: Geneva, Illinois Joined: 
That's not really an issue. Most mathematicians will tell you that mathematics is not about the real world. You seem to be confused by the fact that mathematicians sometimes say that their mathematics is real. However, as Rrhain tried to point out, that's more of a philosophical issue. The major philosophies of mathematics are:
In practice, most mathematicians are platonists. A few are fictionalists, but you would probably have difficulty distinguishing between platonists and fictionalists. constructivists and intuitionists have much in common. In particular, they tend to be skeptical of much that platonists say about infinite sets. I am not convinced that there are any actual formalists, so formalism is mostly a fall back position used to explain to skeptics (such as you) what it is that mathematicians do. I consider myself a fictionalist. I have never asked an intuitionist about whether 0.9999... is equal to 1. That's partly because I don't actually know any intuitionists in real life, though I know of some. My best guess is that intuitionists and constructivists would agree that 0.9999... is equal to 1. That they are equal is a matter of well accepted convention.


Jon Inactive Member 
Of course; but then my footnotes become as separated from the main text as the technical 'who has replied' information on the bottom. I want them set off from the main text, not cut off from it. Anyway, off topic, please no more on the decision to use underscores in place of line codes. Jon [O]ur tiny halfkilogram rock just compeltely fucked up our starship.  Rahvin


cavediver Member (Idle past 1978 days) Posts: 4129 From: UK Joined: 
My constructivist friend denies the existence of the limit implied by .9999~, but accepts .9999~ symbollically as a representation of 1. Similary with .33333~ and 1/3, etc. ABE: sorry, how rude. Good to see you around Edited by cavediver, : No reason given.


nwr Member Posts: 5587 From: Geneva, Illinois Joined: 
Interesting. Thanks. ABE:
No big deal, and not rude at all. (I asked for reinstatement so I could comment in this thread). Edited by nwr, : add comment on edited change in the post to which this was responding.


New Cat's Eye Inactive Member 
Excuse me for fogetting just how frickin' brilliant you are
To each his own, I guess.
Who do you think you are? Gosh, a simple "Thanks, yeah." would have sufficed... and not make you look like such a pompous douchebag.


Jon Inactive Member 
Well, I realize that 'real' numbers are a specific type of numbers within the MATHSYSTEM which do not necessarily have any relation to the 'real' in Reality. My main point in everything has been that 0.9999 is a Mathematical concept which does not exist in the Real world, likewise for 1. Instead, there is a Reality for which Math has two modes of representation, which it must then equate through rules of its own making. And yes, it is very much philosophical. My point has been rather simple all along; some folk, however, have been confusing what I say and muddling it up so much that I needed to start a separate thread to try to explain my take: "I do not think Math has any necessary relationship to Reality, and I use the 0.9999 example to show it. As far as the Mathematical equivalence of 0.9999 to 1, I think it is True. As far as for their Realitybased equivalence, I think it, like them, does not exist." Thank you for your informative post. I guess by those standards I too would be a Fictionalist/Intuitionalist. Not sure who could ever claim to be a Formalist, obviously the Math symbols have meaning, even if to just one person. Thanks, [O]ur tiny halfkilogram rock just compeltely fucked up our starship.  Rahvin


Dr Adequate Member Posts: 16107 Joined: Member Rating: 8.3 
No.
The relationship between math and reality isn't conventional, it's discovered. The fact that two apples plus three apples is five apples isn't a mere social agreement like driving on the right. The isomorphism between reality and the structure of the natural numbers actually exists.


nwr Member Posts: 5587 From: Geneva, Illinois Joined:

You fit more as a constructivist or intuitionist. The intuitionists take the view that there are no infinite decimal expansions, only finite ones. Fictionalists don't have a problem dealing with fictions, so most would not have a problem with infinite decimal expansions. In the particular case of 0.9999..., what we have is a recurring decimal expansion. And that's different from an infinite decimal expansion. We can actually have a notation for recurring decimals that only requires writing down finitely many symbols. While a platonist would take that notation as a shorthand for an infinite decimal expansion, a constructivist or intuitionist might take it as a separate notation in its own right which does not require anything infinite. I think that's what cavediver's constructivist friend was implying (see Message 8).


Iblis Member (Idle past 2231 days) Posts: 663 Joined: 
I've answered already though, at Message 81. It is. To me, it's like asking whether 1  0  0  0 ... is somehow different from 1. I cannot understand most of the arguments from the other side, they seem to be trying to say that one divided by infinity is something other than 0. I don't have any problem with repeating decimals, they are simply a weird effect of the base system. I do have a problem with nonrepeating decimals, but it is not the same problem the constructivists apparently have. Interestingly, CatholicScientist gives a variation on the same proof that I do. Message 7


Son Goku Member Posts: 1153 From: Ireland Joined:

Hey Jon,
nwr has already outlined most of the mathematical philosophies, I just wanted to comment on a two things. First of all, as far as I can gather a lot of mathematicians take the view that mathematics is real in the same way that chess is real. Finally from a physicists point of view, it turns out (as was essentially said by Dr Adequate), that some of these mathematical systems do in fact correspond to reality or match reality to a large degree. The counting of discrete objects is matched by the functioning of the natural numbers. In the case of 0.999... = 1, this identity is a property of the Real numbers (not their only strange property). However it is properties like this which allow the real numbers to support calculus, which matches the real world.* *I should say that most constructionists that I have met (i.e. all two of them) believe that 0.999.. = 1, the transcendentals and all other wierd Real number stuff, is just unfortunate formal junk we have to put up with to obtain calculus. That is they agree with calculus, they just don't like the bizarre number system it's based on. To quote Hermann Weyl: (paraphrasing) P.S. Nice to see you again nwr! Edited by Son Goku, : Greeting



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