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

Views: 450

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Sounds more like a description of religious apologetics.

Philosophers also seem to prefer fiddly details to broad concepts, and end up with a plate of spaghetti. 

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.

RE: Now, it can be argued that logic is a subset of math, but I would argue the reverse. Math is a subset of logic because logic is a way of reaching valid conclusions and one can do that verbally or formally and math is part of the formal way of doing so.

I was a bit surprised to hear you say that. Does math not pre-date logic? Therefore logic is a subset of math IN PART? That would be my argument.

@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.


Support T|A

Think Atheist is 100% member supported

All proceeds go to keeping Think Atheist online.

Donate with Dogecoin



  • Add Videos
  • View All

Services we love

We are in love with our Amazon

Book Store!

Gadget Nerd? Check out Giz Gad!

Into life hacks? Check out LabMinions.com

Advertise with ThinkAtheist.com

© 2014   Created by Dan.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service