"A chair may be a collection of whirling electrons, or an idea in the mind of God..."
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English mathematician, G. H. Hardy (February 7, 1877 – December 1, 1947), was known for his achievements in number theory and mathematical analysis. Hardy was also an avid cricket fan. Friend and colleague Maynard Keynes (founder of Keynesian economics) noted that if Hardy had read the stock exchange for half an hour every day with as much interest as he did cricket scores, he would have been a rich man.
Outside of mathematics, Hardy was known for his essay, "A Mathematician's Apology," considered one of the best insights into the mind of a mathematician. A love letter to mathematical beauty and the pleasure mathematicians derive from their work — comparable to music and poetry.
The Ideology of Reality
Ideology is the science of ideas. What is reality then, is it a system of ideas or is it what we take it to be, the state of things as they actually exist?
On this, Hardy writes:
If it is all a matter of perspective, then reality, even to the speakers of math, does not lose any of its beauty.
On the function of the mathematician, Hardy writes:
Robert Maynard Pirsig (born September 6, 1928) is a writer and philosopher. With an I.Q. of 170, Pirsig skipped several grades and at 14, enrolled at the University of Minnesota to study biochemistry. The young Pirsig saw science, not as a system of understanding but as an end goal — as a way to meet absolute Truth. While in the university, Pirsig discovered that there were seemingly limitless workable hypotheses to explain a given phenomenon. A puzzled and disillusioned Pirsig was eventually expelled from the university due to failing grades.
Pirsig enlisted in the military, serving overseas. Upon his return, he began to study philosophy. Pirsig was far from overcoming his difficulties with inquiry, finally suffering a nervous breakdown. Pirsig was in and out of psychiatric hospitals between 1961 and 1963. Pirsig chronicled much of this experience in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, where he put into words not only the ghosts of his past but also what he had learned about the nature of reality and its accompanying beliefs. At the start, Pirsig believed that math and science would offer some ultimate Knowing, only to later discover that math was just another interpretation of existence, comparable to music and poetry.
On this, Pirsig writes:
The pairing of G. H. Hardy and Robert M. Pirsig illuminates the beautiful language of reality. Whatever really "is," we may never know. Our interpretations of what is, exist within our own human imagination.
Expressed through words, and words defining our interpretations. Reality becoming beautiful language and beautiful language becoming Reality.
Useful Companions (Improve Your Education and This Site by Buying a Book):
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values - Robert M. Pirsig
- A Mathematician's Apology - G. H. Hardy
- No one explains the limitations of language in expressing what is better than Ludwig Wittgenstein in his seminal work Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
- Wholeness and the Implicate Order - David Bohm