R: [FOM] 31st Novembertagung 2020
Antonino Drago
drago at unina.it
Sat Apr 25 18:34:11 EDT 2020
24 aprile 2020 Joe Shipman wrote:
"My question is how the axiomatic method is �harmful� to MATHEMATICS. In what ways have mathematicians been harmed, not by having the axiomatic method available as a tool which they may or may not choose to use, but by being either hampered in their regular work by an insistence upon axiomatics, or denied insight or blocked from progress due to a subject having been axiomatised in an unfortunate way?"
Please, take note that Lazare Carnot was a great geometer and mathematician.
Moreover, the search along millennia of a proof for the parallel axiom is an instance of harm for the progress of mathematics. The search was corroborated by an axiomatic property: since for each Euclidean theorem there exists the proof of the converse, and there exists the proof of the converse of the parallel postulate, then the proof of the postulate was believed a must.
Also Lobachevsky tried to prove the postulate; but after few years he changed attitude and developed in a non axiomatic way his new theory.
His invention was possible because the non axiomatized trigonometry gave an idea of space from the outside of Euclidean geometry.
The same did Goedel, who in a first time, believing in Hilbert's axiomatic method, tried to prove the completeness; but later changed opinion and obtained his celebrated theorems.
By incidence, it is fortunate for us that von Neumann, as he said to Goedel, the day before Goedel's first communication had realize to be unsuccessful in his last attempt for proving the completeness; otherwise no one had conceded attention to the young mathematician. In previous years Von Neumann had already publicly announced to have obtained the proof.
It was the faith in the axiomatic method that led Hilbert to state the celeber dictum: "In Mathematics there is no Ignorabimus". This dictum was first denied by Goedel's undecidability result and then by a legion of undecidabilities in Mathematics. It was the discovery of the other face of the Moon. No computer theory is possible without undecidable results.
Best regards
Antonino Drago
-----Messaggio originale-----
Da: fom-bounces at cs.nyu.edu [mailto:fom-bounces at cs.nyu.edu] Per conto di Joe Shipman
Inviato: venerdì 24 aprile 2020 00:10
A: tchow at alum.mit.edu
Cc: FOM at cs.nyu.edu
Oggetto: Re: [FOM] 31st Novembertagung 2020
Hersh is saying that the axiomatic method doesn�t capture the essence of what mathematicians do, I I am not arguing with that.
I have been trying to ask a specific question here, and I keep getting off-point answers. My question is how the axiomatic method is �harmful� to MATHEMATICS. In what ways have mathematicians been harmed, not by having the axiomatic method available as a tool which they may or may not choose to use, but by being either hampered in their regular work by an insistence upon axiomatics, or denied insight or blocked from progress due to a subject having been axiomatised in an unfortunate way?
I expect there are examples of this, but I want examples of THIS, rather than general criticism from outside mathematics that professional mathematicians may ignore.
� JS
Sent from my iPhone
> On Apr 23, 2020, at 5:19 PM, Timothy Y. Chow <tchow at math.princeton.edu> wrote:
>
> ?Joe Shipman wrote:
>
>> > On the other hand, some philosophers also argue that the axiomatic > view on mathematics may be harmful in that it omits fundamental > aspects of mathematical practice and idealizes mathematical reasoning > in an unfaithful way.
>>
>> Which philosophers? I'm interested in any references you have on this topic.
>
> Depending on what exactly is meant by "the axiomatic view on mathematics" (and also on who counts as a "philosopher"!), Reuben Hersh might be an example. In his essay, "How Mathematicians Convince Each Other, or `The Kingdom of Math is Within You,'" Hersh writes (among many other things):
>
> One may use formal proof as a "model" of mathematicians' proof, but
> mathematicians' proof is not formal proof. Our starting point is
> established mathematics, not some postulated axioms, and our reasoning
> is "semantic", based on the properties of mathematical entities, rather
> than "syntactic", based on properties of formal sentences.
>
> Note particularly his claim that "Our starting point is ... not some postulated axioms."
>
> Tim
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