FOM: use and mention, objective, astronomical calculations, etc.

Martin Davis martind at
Mon Mar 23 14:44:34 EST 1998

At 09:17 AM 3/23/98 -0800, Vaughan Pratt wrote:

>Dear Martin:
>Could clarify what you intended in the following?
>Davis (March #113):
>>"Reuben Hersh makes the remarkable discovery that mathematical activity 
>>is a social process."
>Hersh (March #129):
>>May I be forgiven for guessing that the "remarkable" is sarcasm?
>Davis: (March #141):
>Apparently like Reuben, I had interpreted this to mean that you thought
>it obvious that mathematical activity was a social process.  If you meant
>something else, e.g. that RH is wrong about it being a social process,
>it would be good to clarify this.

Dear Vaughan,

I can't imagine how anyone could think that mathematical *activity* was
other than a social process. It's done by people living in society. However
that simple fact is no help in working out the kind of validity that the
assertions of mathematics possess.

Responding also to your SETI remarks in a different post: Greek mathematics
was different from ours in just the sort of way I'd expect that developed by
folks on another planet to be. Based on an entirely different mind set - but
in the end 
recognizably the same activity.


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