Re: All is number

From: James MacAulay (
Date: Fri Aug 13 2004 - 09:12:20 MDT

> --- "J. Andrew Rogers" <>

> > What you are really saying is "let's pretend
> > math doesn't apply
> > to this universe so that I can imagine another
> > universe in which math
> > doesn't apply", which is what this distills down to
> > if you haven't
> > figured it out yet.

> > On Aug 12, 2004, at 7:45 PM, Simon Gordon wrote:

>Math does apply. But so does language. If math was the
>simplest explanation for anything then why wouldnt we
>use it on a day to day basis to make rational
>arguments? Its funny how over 99% of sl4 posts are
>coposed entirely of words. It turns out that the
>simplest way to explain most human situations is to
>use natural language. Language is a code, just as math
>is a code, and things can manifest from language too.

It's a very good point that both math and spoken language are codes. Math is
a code that is very good at precisely modelling a great many conceptual
systems. English or Chinese or Swahili, on the other hand, are very good at
*communicating* the actual experience of our world to other human beings, in
certain ways that we've found useful in the course of our evolution. If you
say, "being on stage made me feel like I had butterflies in my stomach,"
even someone who has never heard that expression used will nonetheless get a
vivid impression of the experience you are describing.

Since math is much more flexible than spoken language, you can
mathematically reduce that statement in a number of ways, depending on how
you decide on objectifying the experience. You could be very general, using
the same categorization as the original statement, and simply say that
"(location) = (on stage), therefore (stomach feeling) = (butterflies)." A
better use of math's strengths might be to measure hormonal levels and
muscle tension in different parts of the body charted at different times.
Or, if your measuring equipment were suitably advanced, perhaps you could
map the movements of each subatomic particle which comprised the performer,
the audience, the auditorium, the universe, et cetera. In all these cases,
though, you still have to define how you're going to cut up reality in your
objectified model.

When someone says that "math manifests the universe" or that "all is number"
or that "the underlying nature of reality is math," what are they really
talking about? As far as I can tell, the most meaningful way of interpreting
these statements is simply to say that our experience is diverse (making us
able to assign numbers to the ways in which elements of our experience
differ from one another) and that this diversity forms recognizable patterns
(making us able to represent the patterns with algorithms using the
previously assigned numbers). We have no evidence that there is a
"background layer" hiding beneath or behind our experience which is calling
the shots. The imagined need for that sublayer is no different from the
imagined need for a little audience in your head to watch a Cartesian
Theatre, or for there to be a creator God, or any other "first cause" for
that matter.

James MacAulay

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