Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Does Mathematical Beauty Pose Problems for Naturalism?

Does Mathematical Beauty Pose Problems for Naturalism?
Russell W. Howell
Prof. of Mathematics, Westmont College - Santa Barbara, California
July 28, 2005
The process of pure mathematical thought and the engagement with ever-surprising, profound new statements and their proofs (fulfillable mathematical intentions) reveals, alongside with a never-ending, other-worldly depth of pure mathematical discovery, the true meaning of Cantor's words,
'the essence of mathematics lies in its freedom'
Through that participative process, the mind acquires a sense of distinctiveness and autonomy of mathematics with respect to the physical world/processes. The (contingent) physical world(s)/universe(s)? No need for such hypotheses (turning the tables on Laplace, here). No need for a 'working' hypothesis of a physical world out there in the depth of pure mathematical exploration. This is not good news for naturalism.The same case for profound freedom can be made by poets and artists.  (MC)