[FOM] Convincing math-blind people that math is different

Franklin franklin.vp at gmail.com
Thu Dec 25 22:14:28 EST 2014

On Thu, Dec 25, 2014 at 11:24 AM, Joseph Shipman <JoeShipman at aol.com> wrote:

> I think I reject the premise of your argument that a person can be both intelligent > and "math-blind".
> In my experience, every adult who is intelligent enough to speak English clearly
> and make *any* kind of mental effort is capable of understanding certain simple
> ideas which can serve as a basis for genuinely mathematical insight.

I only want to make the observation that to get the contradiction in a
person being both intelligent and "math-blind" you are assuming
"intelligent enough to speak English clearly". If we accept linguistic
relativism the assumption of speaking English may be including that
the English speaker does understand the math knowledge that the
English language contains. For example, the words "one, two, three,
..." Maybe it should be considered the question: Is it possible to be
math-blind while speaking a language that is not math-blind?

The numerical examples you listed wouldn't be possible for a speaker
of a language without words for (large) numerals, say Pirah~a
language. Is it fair to assume an individual from the Pirah~a people
cannot be intelligent?

Franklin Vera Pacheco

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