[FOM] Tim Gowers work (was: One Real Number)
Jeremy Clark
jclark at noos.fr
Tue Jul 1 17:05:33 EDT 2003
On Saturday, June 28, 2003, at 04:47 PM, Dean Buckner wrote:
>
> Gowers has a Wittgensteinian slant, and has a healthy suspicion of set
> theory. For example, "If R is an equivalence relation on a set A and x
> belongs to A, then the equivalence class of x is the set E(x)={y in A:
> xRy},
> but as the proof proceeded, every time I wrote down a statement such
> as "z
> is an element of E(x)" I immediately translated it into the equivalent
> and
> much simpler non-set-theoretic statement xRz."
>
> His most interesting stuff is on the idea of definable sets. He has
> the
> Wittgensteinian insight that perhaps we can do all analysis using just
> "definable" reals. And since we obviously can't say what non-definable
> reals are, why bother with them at all?
If we can't say what non-definable reals are, then I would argue that
it makes
no sense to restrict our attention to definable reals, because we can't
say
what they are either. We should just talk about reals. *How* we talk
about them
is, of course, still very much open to question. This is the line of
constructivive
mathematics: to talk about reals constructively rather than about
constructive
reals. (Paraphrasing, I think, Fred Richman.)
By the way, the idea of doing away with equivalence classes and just
referring
to the relationship is also used extensively in constructive
mathematics.
Jeremy Clark
More information about the FOM
mailing list