Mathematicians = Discoverers or Inventors?

I think that mathematicians view the world in a different perspective than some other people in the sense that they can find ways to fit Nature (such a complicated concept) into summaries using numbers and graphs. In that way, artists and mathematicians are similar. They try to express nature in their own ways. The former by painting and other medians and the latter by graphs and numbers.

I think that mathematicians make rules for the things that they see but they can only see what our world shows them, they don’t see beyond that. This relates to the story about the 3 blind men and the elephant. So in that sense they are both discoverers and inventors. They discover elements of nature and invent formulas and other theories to capture that small section of Nature.

The “Allegory of the Cave” was interesting to learn about. I think its true that we see only shadows of things and only the things that the world shows us. In the cave, they saw what the person showed them and held towards the light. It’s similar to real life because we only see what the world shows us and what our world is like. (A little bit like the Brain in the Vat and the Truman show.)

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4 comments to Mathematicians = Discoverers or Inventors?

  • Anita

    This just reminded me of everyone having different perspectives. We all see things in different ways, thus everyone’s interpretation of everything is probably different. So there’s probably no actual way to stop seeing ‘shadows’ of anything. Every interpretation, every story heard, every painting looked at, it all looks different to everyone.

  • Jennifer

    It’s interesting how you said mathematicians view the world in different way. So different areas of knowledge-history, mathematics, arts-are just different ways of viewing the same world of ours. :) It is also interesting to imagine how prisoners might have perceived the shadows. They could have still felt the chairs against their bodies right? Did they think that the ‘shadows’ are flat, tangible, or textured? It would have been different for every prisoners.

  • Angel

    If the prisoners are bound, then how can they feel texture? For example, water feels like liquid to us but does it feel the same way to a fish? Does air feel the same way to a fish? We all just seem the small part of the world that we are in.
    I also think the we see shadows in the sense that we don’t see the whole picture just one side of it.

  • Charles Goh

    That depends. It is easy to fool people into “feeling” one way. For example, if I tell you to imagine water having a rough texture, you can do that, and the experience would be almost the same as actually touching “rough water”.

    There was a study in which sprinters were asked to sit in a stationary position and visualise sprinting. The areas of the brain that lit up (in terms of neural signals) were exactly the same as those that lit up when the sprinter wasw actually sprinting. This demonstrates how someone could imagine what the real thing was like without even being part of it.

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