Steps Toward a Whiteheadian Philosophy of Mathematics and the Natural Sciences
Author: Murray Code
Publisher: SUNY Press
What is now needed is a way of thinking about the physical that is realistic in outlook but which departs radically from the mechanistic post-Galilean tradition. Since it seems clear that we can no longer take for granted the certainty and absolute objectivity of scientific knowledge, any alternative view must be able to do full justice to subjective modes of knowing. Order and Organism shows how Alfred North Whitehead's thought can reconcile some of the most insistent demands of common sense with the esoteric results of modern physics and mathematics. Whitehead shows a way to resolve the perennial puzzle of why mathematics works. Under his view, it is possible to account for the necessity and uniqueness of mathematical theories without denying the fact that such theories often arise from the mathematician's essentially aesthetic interest in various kinds of pattern.
Toward a Common Philosophy of Physics and Mathematics
Author: Roland Omnès
Publisher: Princeton University Press
The mysterious beauty, harmony, and consistency of mathematics once caused philosopher Hilary Putnam to term its existence a "miracle." Now, advances in the understanding of physics suggest that the foundations of mathematics are encompassed by the laws of nature, an idea that sheds new light on both mathematics and physics. The philosophical relationship between mathematics and the natural sciences is the subject of Converging Realities, the latest work by one of the leading thinkers on the subject. Based on a simple but powerful idea, it shows that the axioms needed for the mathematics used in physics can also generate practically every field of contemporary pure mathematics. It also provides a foundation for current investigations in string theory and other areas of physics. This approach to the nature of mathematics is not really new, but it became overshadowed by formalism near the end of nineteenth century. The debate turned eventually into an exclusive dialogue between mathematicians and philosophers, as if physics and nature did not exist. This unsatisfactory situation was enforced by the uncertain standing of physical reality in quantum mechanics. The recent advances in the interpretation of quantum mechanics (as described in Quantum Philosophy, also by Omnès) have now reconciled the foundations of physics with objectivity and common sense. In Converging Realities, Roland Omnès is among the first scholars to consider the connection of natural laws with mathematics.
A Contemporary Introduction to the World of Proofs and Pictures
Author: James Robert Brown
In his long-awaited new edition of Philosophy of Mathematics, James Robert Brown tackles important new as well as enduring questions in the mathematical sciences. Can pictures go beyond being merely suggestive and actually prove anything? Are mathematical results certain? Are experiments of any real value? This clear and engaging book takes a unique approach, encompassing non-standard topics such as the role of visual reasoning, the importance of notation, and the place of computers in mathematics, as well as traditional topics such as formalism, Platonism, and constructivism. The combination of topics and clarity of presentation make it suitable for beginners and experts alike. The revised and updated second edition of Philosophy of Mathematics contains more examples, suggestions for further reading, and expanded material on several topics including a novel approach to the continuum hypothesis.
This is a charming and insightful contribution to an understanding of the "Science Wars" between postmodernist humanism and science, driving toward a resolution of the mutual misunderstanding that has driven the controversy. It traces the root of postmodern theory to a debate on the foundations of mathematics early in the 20th century, then compares developments in mathematics to what took place in the arts and humanities, discussing issues as diverse as literary theory, arts, and artificial intelligence. This is a straightforward, easily understood presentation of what can be difficult theoretical concepts It demonstrates that a pattern of misreading mathematics can be seen both on the part of science and on the part of postmodern thinking. This is a humorous, playful yet deeply serious look at the intellectual foundations of mathematics for those in the humanities and the perfect critical introduction to the bases of modernism and postmodernism for those in the sciences.
The traditional debate among philosophers of mathematics is whether there is an external mathematical reality, something out there to be discovered, or whether mathematics is the product of the human mind. This provocative book, now available in a revised and expanded paperback edition, goes beyond foundationalist questions to offer what has been called a "postmodern" assessment of the philosophy of mathematics--one that addresses issues of theoretical importance in terms of mathematical experience. By bringing together essays of leading philosophers, mathematicians, logicians, and computer scientists, Thomas Tymoczko reveals an evolving effort to account for the nature of mathematics in relation to other human activities. These accounts include such topics as the history of mathematics as a field of study, predictions about how computers will influence the future organization of mathematics, and what processes a proof undergoes before it reaches publishable form. This expanded edition now contains essays by Penelope Maddy, Michael D. Resnik, and William P. Thurston that address the nature of mathematical proofs. The editor has provided a new afterword and a supplemental bibliography of recent work.