X-Message-Number: 15015
Date: Fri, 24 Nov 2000 20:52:22 -0500
From: david pizer <>
Subject: All eggs in one mathematical basket?

Does the universe use math, or do we?

From: "Joseph Kehoe" <>
>Subject: Turing People


>One could argue that the entire universe is based on math and logic. Can
anyone name a process that  cannot be modelled by some math equation?  

If you mean *we* "base" *our* understanding of the universe on math, then
we have no disagreement, and one need not read further.  If you mean there
is some math the universe uses, then we disagree, and here is why I would

We base some of our understanding of the universe on math, the universe
does not base anything on math.

If to say the universe is "based" on math and logic is to say something
about the universe, and not us, then I believe that is a mistaken

I believe the universe is based on the existence of something vs nothing -
and that's what *it* is based on - not math.  In other words, "physical
thing" is the basis, not abstract reasoning.  If I am right, and I admit I
am not certain, then there are the following problems for non-Pizerists:

Physical things exist.

Abstract reasoning does not exist, physically.  

Math is abstract reasoning.

Physical things are not math, in reality.  (We may use math to explain
them, but their material parts are not abstract things, they are something
that exists.)

We are physical things.

When we exist, we are not abstract things, abstract does not exist.

A human to exist must be a physical thing.

An abstract human is a fiction - it does not and cannot exist in the real

In describing the relationship of humans to the universe, (but not the
universe to humans),  we can say math (which breaks down into logic and/or
set theory) is one of the tools *we* base our understanding  of *it* on.
To say that we humans base our (feeble) understanding of the universe on
math is not to say that the universe is based on math; nor, that the
universe used math to come into existence, nor (if the universe has always
existed) uses math to stay in existence.  I doubt that the universe uses,
or bases, or understands math (Unless Spinoza was right and the universe is

To say that math is a useful tool for us to try to understand part of the
universe and part of the things in it, does not mean that there are not
other ways to understand parts of the universe - most of which have not
been discovered so early in human existence. I also think it is a mistake
to think that math can tell you everything about the universe with any
certainty, especially anything about self-aware beings. 

For centuries, great thinkers have been trying to put the things that
describe humans into mathematical terms.  The reason for this, as you know,
is then we would be able to objectively describe humans, existence, etc.,
and answer epistemological, moral, and metaphysical questions with certainty.

To date, with certainty, no one has gotten further than "I exist" with or
without math.  

We need new physics and new philopophy if we are to break out of our
(slightly expanded) cave into the bright light of certainty.  Or in other
words, the math, physics, and philosophy we have now, can't tell one a
fraction of 1% of anything, with certainty.

There are many things a math equation cannot tell you:

1.	What a cup of coffee tastes like.

2.	What it feels like to be in love.

3.	What if feels like to be consciousness.

4.	What if feels like to be self-aware.

5.	What is art, in the absolute sense.

6.	What is absolute beauty.

7.	What is absolute morality.

(do they even exist?)

8.	What is absolute space without regard to relative bodies.

9.	What is absolute time (or even if it exists?).

10.	The statement: "This statement is a lie."

If I am correct on all this, then a duplicate can never be the survival of
a destroyed original.   So, I hope I am wrong.  

Meanwhile, don't get overconfident.  Keep all options open.  Don't die yet.

Dave Pizer

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