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Thread: Mathematics

  1. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by poetix View Post
    The issue I think isn't that the real world resists mathematisation - if anything, it gives in suspiciously easily
    Ha, I like this line - isn't there some quote from a famous scientist (Einstein?) to the effect that "the most incredible thing about the universe is that we can understand any of it at all"? If there isn't, there should be...

    Quote Originally Posted by poetix View Post
    - but that mathematics elaborates its own resistance (when Paul de Man said that the resistance to theory is intrinsic to theory itself, you could say he was expressing an aspiration that theory should attain to the condition of mathematics). It throws up difficulties that nobody thought of when the formal conditions under which those difficulties arise were thought of. Where do the difficulties come from? Not from the "real world", and not directly from mathematicians themselves: they "occur within" mathematics, and "occur to" mathematicians, who then have to work with and around them.
    Do you mean things like Goedel's incompleteness theorem? That seems to be the most obvious example of this kind of "resistance", though there may be others.
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  2. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by poetix View Post
    Well, formalisation is a kind of absolutisation. It's not the universal key to all mythology, but it is a procedure that enables you to get a certain sort of traction over certain kinds of problems.
    This is a good way of putting it.

    Quote Originally Posted by poetix
    Yes and no - that cliche is really about primary versus secondary properties (the idea being that moving molecules are physical realities, while "sound" is something experienced by an auditor). Correlationism effectively insists that absent some subject that organises (transcendentally or otherwise) a field of experience containing entities such as tree, forest, moving molecules etc., none of these entities really exists, since their mode of existence is intrinsically and irrevocably relational. Experience is experience of something (correlationism giveth), but it is only ever experience of something (and correlationism taketh away).

    (Mathematics, rather usefully from the point of view of someone trying to frame a counter-argument to this, is not the experience of anything at all).
    I don't know if I buy the difference between "primary" and "secondary" properties, though. M. has quite a bit more convincing to do before I'm going to decide that sound is different from sound waves (moving molecules).** These are the sorts of distinctions that, again, matter more in theory than in practice, they sound great as a metaphysical vocabulary but if you tried to make a scientific distinction between them you'd be hard pressed.

    Quote Originally Posted by poetix
    Since I've been reading Graham Harman's very splendid book on Latour recently, I feel emboldened to suggest that race has powerful allies in reality, and that anti-racism has to separate race from those allies (thereby diminishing the intensity with which it appears in the world) and not merely dismiss it as an irritatingly persistent illusion. Somewhere in Junky, Burroughs describes a confederate as looking like a ghost that has materialised in someone's old overcoat. Race has a dense cloud of confederates, among them cops, prisons, newspapers and superannuated white geneticists - it certainly "makes a difference", to which anti-racists must seek to make a difference in their turn.
    I agree completely. It's never an either/or sort of proposition, Ontology or ontologies, but I do feel a tinge of guilt spending so much energy worried about certain things when certain other things are so much more of a problem for other people. Re Prince of Networks, I emailed GH and asked for this (thnx btw, I wouldn't have known about it if your blog hadn't tipped off) and it's excellent and certainly deserves it's own thread. Latour is a new obsession for me, and luckily, unlike some of the soc of science guys, his work is actually translated into English.

    **Of course, I realize that M thinks he's a realist, and therefore that he doesn't fall into the same intellectual traps as the correlationists, but he does want to "rehabilitate" primary and secondary metaphysical properties in AF.
    Last edited by nomadthethird; 02-02-2009 at 10:04 PM.

  3. #93
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    Another thing I disagree completely with Meillassoux (and maybe even Harman/Latour) about? Heidegger being a correlationist. It's especially funny the quotes that are used to make this argument.

    But that's another thread.

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  5. #95
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    Rich and Tea are in bed. We'll haveto wait till tomorrow.

  6. #96

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    (rubs hands)

  7. #97
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    I love seeing this side of Tea.

  8. #98

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    "It is a profound puzzle that on the one hand mathematical truths seem to have a compelling inevitability, but on the other hand the source of their "truthfulness" remains elusive"

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  10. #99
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    I feel like I might need to coach you on how to steer a thread.

  11. #100

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    sorry, uh, great contributions from nomad

  12. #101
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    Tell us what you want and how you like it. Be direct and confident and assertive. People respond to that. It's sexy.

  13. #102

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    "platonism" vs "formalism" - go!

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  15. #103
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    Sounds good, sexy. I'll check in in the morning. I'm going to bed.

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