Erkenntnistheorie der zahldefinition und philosophische grundlegung der arithmetik unter bezugnahme auf einen vergleich Von Gottlob freges logizismus und platonischer philosophie (syrian, theon Von smyrna U.A.)
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal for General Philosophy of Science 32 (2):271-305 (2001)
The epistomology of the definition of number and the philosophical foundation of arithmetic based on a comparison between Gottlob Frege's logicism and Platonic philosophy (Syrianus, Theo Smyrnaeus, and others). The intention of this article is to provide arithmetic with a logically and methodologically valid definition of number for construing a consistent philosophical foundation of arithmetic. The – surely astonishing – main thesis is that instead of the modern and contemporary attempts, especially in Gottlob Frege's Foundations of Arithmetic, such a definition is found in the arithmetic in Euclid's Elements. To draw this conclusion a profound reflection on the role of epistemology for the foundation of mathematics, especially for the method of definition of number, is indispensable; a reflection not to be found in the contemporary debate (the predominate ‘pragmaticformalism’ in current mathematics just shirks from trying to solve the epistemological problems raised by the debate between logicism, intuitionism, and formalism). Frege's definition of number, ‘The number of the concept F is the extension of the concept ‘numerically equal to the concept F”, which is still substantial for contemporary mathematics, does not fulfil the requirements of logical and methodological correctness because the definiens in a double way (in the concepts ‘extension of a concept’ and ‘numerically equal’) implicitly presupposes the definiendum, i.e. number itself. Number itself, on the contrary, is defined adequately by Euclid as ‘multitude composed of units’, a definition which is even, though never mentioned, an implicit presupposition of the modern concept ofset. But Frege rejects this definition and construes his own - for epistemological reasons: Frege's definition exactly fits the needs of modern epistemology, namely that for to know something like the number of a concept one must become conscious of a multitude of acts of producing units of ‘given’ representations under the condition of a 1:1 relationship to obtain between the acts of counting and the counted ‘objects’. According to this view, which has existed at least since the Renaissance stoicism and is maintained not only by Frege but also by Descartes, Kant, Husserl, Dummett, and others, there is no such thing as a number of pure units itself because the intellect or pure reason, by itself empty, must become conscious of different units of representation in order to know a multitude, a condition not fulfilled by Euclid's conception. As this is Frege's main reason to reject Euclid's definition of number (others are discussed in detail), the paper shows that the epistemological reflection in Neoplatonic mathematical philosophy, which agrees with Euclid's definition of number, provides a consistent basement for it. Therefore it is not progress in the history of science which hasled to the a poretic contemporary state of affairs but an arbitrary change of epistemology in early modern times, which is of great influence even today.
|Keywords||philosophy of mathematics definition of number epistemology logicism Frege Euclid Platonism|
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