I am reading Bertrand Russell's "History of Western Philosophy" and in the chapter on Pythagoras the author commented that the influence of mathematics on philosophy is unmistakable and unfortunate. As a neophyte I am not formally studied in philosophy and was curious why Russell would characterize the impact of mathematics on philosophy as unfortunate.

Perhaps someone schooled in philosophy could shed some light. Would it be incorrect to assume that mathematics and logic would be considered intrinsic to philosophical thought?   

Tags: Bertrand, Russell, mathematics

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When you don't know where to begin to refute a criticism, it's a fair bet it's nonsense.

It's just an observation.  Your comment is a good description of most of the philosophy I see. 

And as an unsupported observation, it means nothing other than as an expression of your attitude, like a raised middle finger.

Does this have pesto sauce?

'Philosophy', as a study seems to very much influenced by Europe, Greece, Rome, and Egypt. I would like to suggest that, in a larger way, that some cultures might not use soom of the common trappings such as logic, math, analysis, etc.

I consider mathematics as a 'branch' of philosophy, as the sciences, since many of these emerged out of the cultural process of 'understanding nature and ourselves'.

A funny story. Several years ago there was a researcher in Africa that was trying to gather cultural information about the question 'what is the ideal family size?' In his culture, it was considered 'OK' to consult with the local witch doctors and shaman to gather the information from their ancesters! This was announced at the time on NPR during a science program! I was rather floored, but then gathered myself up to atleast get over my common sensibilities! For them it was their 'norm', just not my 'norm'....;p)  

I would like to suggest that, in a larger way, that some cultures might not use soom of the common trappings such as logic, math, analysis, etc.

I would suggest, then, that they don't really do philosophy. Philosophy, wherever it is done, has to be about truth, which implies standards of proof which are obvious, understandable, and subject to discussion and criticism. It is never about simply accepting what one's culture tells one to believe.

Philosophy is also about some large questions; the nature and structure of reality; whether reality is monistic or dualistic; whether souls, spirits, or deities exist; does a person survive their physical death; are we truly free or bound by physical law; etc.

@Belle - the way I see it, we can think of mathematics like a mechanical machine which can be described down to the nuts and bolts.  Logic is a property of reality.  Reality conforms to natural rules of logic.  Mathematics conforms to logic in the same way, and logic can be used in conjunction with mathematical rules to produce new results. 

One had to figure things out (logic) long before tools like math were developed to assist in that regard. Does that make sense?

Surely, numbers came before the explicit study and theories of logic.

I've tried doing equations with moral values.  See what you think of this.  I've posted it before, you may have seen it.  I can't work out whether it's superbly profound, or just random rubbish. 

"balls" + humility + a good heart + integrity = beauty
"balls" + humility + a good heart + integrity + experience = wisdom

Therefore, subtracting line 2 from line 1, we have this [possible nonsense]:

experience = wisdom - beauty
(experience is wisdom without beauty)

experience - wisdom = - beauty
(experience without wisdom is ugliness)

wisdom - experience = beauty
(wisdom without experience is beauty)

"Logic is a property of reality." - in the reality we live in, there are things which are possible and things which are impossible.  It is impossible for me to be in two places at once, for example.  There is also the logic of numbers, which is an abstraction of the real world - abstracting the "threeness" of three stones, for example. 

By "natural rules of logic" I mean the logic of numbers and the logic of everyday life.  The logic of physical reality. 

Russell's concern is probably the same for any discipline that applies math or logic. If you set up the problem wrong; your conclusion will be wrong, even if the math or logic is correct. For instance, if you use a number line with points to represent physical distance, math tells you pencil will never reach paper.

Binary logic, used to implement computers is even more limited than real math in a sense. The only "truths" and computer "knows" are the logical binary operators OR, AND, INVERT. It can only use binary representations of real numbers. Fortunately that is almost always good enough, just don't divide by zero.

Easy to get lost in a computer program or pages of math expressions and forget the philosophy behind the problem.

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