In Eeva Martikainen (ed.), Human Approaches to the Universe. Luther-Agricola-Society (2005)

Authors
Alfred Driessen
University of Twente
Abstract
In this contribution an attempt is made to analyze an important mathematical discovery, the theorem of Gödel, and to explore the possible impact on the consistency of metaphysical systems. It is shown that mathematics is a pointer to a reality that is not exclusively subjected to physical laws. As the Gödel theorem deals with pure mathematics, the philosopher as such can not decide on the rightness of this theorem. What he, instead can do, is evaluating the general acceptance of this mathematical finding and reflect on the consistency between consequences of the mathematical theorem with consequences of his metaphysical view. The findings of three mathematicians are involved in the argumentation: first Gödel himself, then the further elaboration by Turing and finally the consequences for the human mind as worked out by Penrose. As a result one is encouraged to distinguish two different types of intellectual activity in mathematics, which both can be carried out by humans. The astonishing thing is not the distinction between a formalized, logic approach on the one side and intuition, mathematical insight and meaning on the other. Philosophically challenging, however, is the claim that principally only one of these intellectual activities can be carried out by objects exclusively bound to the laws of physical reality.
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