Abbreviations and Symbols

Abstract: How valid is the statement that 1 + 1 = 2? What if maths is just another language like English, Spanish or Chinese? Can maths claim any higher status than any of the other languages? How valid is it to teach maths as the cornerstone to decipher natural laws or as an instrument to discover scientific truths?

A. Is Maths just another Language?

Many will accept that 1 + 1 = 2, without ever questioning this. But think again! What if maths just another language? Mathemathicans often claim that maths is more than just another language. But one can argue that maths is not even a separate language. One can argue that maths is merely derived from spoken language, at best a jargon for those who specialize in a specific area. Let's look at how maths developed!

One explanation is that maths is a creation of accountants and teachers who had to work within the limitations of the physical dimensions of the blackboard. As they wrote down their rhetoric on the blackboard they quickly ran out of space. So, they started to use abbreviations and symbols. Instead of "two cows and another two cows taken together makes four cows", they wrote: "2 cows + 2 cows = 4 cows". Further symbols, such as p, $, l, ! and W, were introduced to describe other things that would otherwise require lengthy and complex sentences. Put such symbols together and one can construct complex formulas. But does that make maths any different from the jargon used by, say, lawyers or doctors?

Scientifically oriented people often point at maths as the justification of their scientific orientation, as the evidence that there is "order in the Universe". But if maths is nothing but a method to shorten sentences, then it is nothing more than rhetoric. The question is whether there is more logic behind maths than there is substance behind rhetoric.

B. The Essence of Maths

Maths manipulates numbers, as if all such manipulations are part of one uniform, logical framework that makes up the building blocks of reality. The logic of numbers is linear and singular. The essence of maths is a line with an infinite amount of points, each point on this line having a different name and each point positioned on this line at an equal distance to their neighbours. Addition is moving up on this line, while the opposite - subtraction - is going down. The line may be imaginary, but for scientifically oriented people, the logic regarded as real. Central in the logic of counting and in logic of adding and subtracting numbers is the concept of zero, the absence of anything as the balance of it all. The zero is the perfect center of this line. The philosophy of the zero is accepted like the gospel, it is the holy truth of science.

Maths combines processes such as counting, adding and multiplying into a single system, as if all such processes are manipulations of numbers that are all lined up and named in a uniform way. Maths takes things that are clearly separate things to start with, and then unifies them in some magical way. It is a trick, the great unifying trick. The worst part is that maths has no philosophical scruples about this. Maths simply presents this as the truth, the one and only truth. Maths does not even accept any alternative model of approaching things. Order is what children are taught at school, not as a choice, but as the truth.

C. How valid is Maths?

Most languages are modest regarding concepts such as truth. People use words to describe something, in the hope that what one person describes will roughly approximate what somebody else imagines when using the same words. As long as people have roughly similar interpretations of the words they are using, they can successfully communicate. Language allows for a degree of flexibility - if there are doubts about what one tries to say, one uses other words, synonyms, further elaborations and descriptions, etc, to clarify areas where there may be confusion. In essence, language is an instrument to allow people to communicate.

By contrast, maths regards itself as an instrument to find scientific truth. Maths insist on total agreement regarding the meaning of its abbreviations and symbols. Maths does not tolerate any alternative interpretations. This is where maths and science go hand in hand. Both claim to represent the exclusive road to the truth. They back up their claim by referring to nature - to reality as they like to call it.

But nature clearly works differently. In nature, one object, say A, may relate to another object, say B. Similarly, object B may relate to yet another object, say C. But that does not imply that A therefore relates to C. The relation between A and C is an indirect one that is construed by people who resort to mathematical logic. But in nature, such a relationship does not exist.

In nature, if one manipulates matter and subsequently does an opposite manipulation, one does not get back to the initial situation. Nature is dynamic, things will have changed, no two situations are ever identical. Nowhere in nature are units lined up in identical dimensions, in a linear way that starts with zero. Take a close look at any two objects and there will be differences, no matter how similar they looked at first glance. Nature does not back up the validity of maths, in fact nature indicates that maths is a system fabricated by people who are out of step with reality.

Moreover, the concept of zero does not exist anywhere in nature. Nature itself provides the very evidence against maths as a system. Mathematicians envisage reality as a framework where everything is in absolute balance, where everything adds up to zero. Maths is a static system with nothing at its center. Indeed, maths is a system that has nothing in common with nature. In reality, everything changes all the time. Panta rei is what Heraclitus said in ancient times with a wisdom that has yet to be matched by modern scientists.

D. Conclusion

The problem with maths is that it expresses the philosophy of uniformity, of universal truth, of singularity, etc. Some people may agree to use a symbol or abbreviation to refer to a specific process. This may be useful in whatever they are doing. But what maths does is to elevate such an abbreviation or symbol to a uniform system that everyone has to use, as if it is the one and only true reflection of universal reality. Of course, this is nothing but dictatorship, which may seem an easy way for the dictator to deal with society, but which clearly is detrimental for all involved, including that very dictator.

So, is it true that 1+1=2? In earlier articles in Optionality Magazine, DonParagon argues that maths is part of an ideology that enforces one single truth in order to deny us freedom of choice. DonParagon states that in nature, there are no numbers, no fixed distances, no laws - the more one looks into reality, science turns out to be a fraudulent philosophy! The article Vision of the Future goes beyond science and explains why DonParagon instead believes in optionality.

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