Abstractions: What’s happening with them?

We all generally know the meaning of abstraction. We all have some opinion, for example, about the value of abstract painting. And I’ve heard from many that mathematics is too abstract to be understood or even interesting. (But I must admit, it is exactly this about mathematics that keeps me so captivated). An abstraction is […]

Probabilities and hallucinations

I’ve written before about how probabilities are used to understand human perception, understanding, and learning. Joshua Tenenbaum uses probabilistic inferencing to account for how we come to learn concepts, acquire language, and understand the world around us quickly, and with very little information (How to Grow a Mind). Optical illusions are created by statistical judgments […]

Mathematical behavior without a brain?

I have made the argument on more than one occasion that a refreshed look at mathematics may help illuminate the relationship between our experience of the physical and our experience of the thoughtful. Mathematics is a discipline characterized by complex relations among abstract things but, as has been explored from many directions, the action of […]

Random Geometry

Random is often the word chosen to describe something that has no order. But randomness has become an increasingly useful tool in mathematics, a discipline whose meaningfulness relies, primarily, on order.

In statistics, randomness as a measure of uncertainty, makes possible the identification of events, whether sociopolitical or physical, with the use of probability distributions. […]

What’s the fuss about entropy?

In 2011 John Horgan posted a piece on his blog, Cross Check (part of the Scientific American blog network), with the title, Why Information can’t be the basis of reality. There Horgan makes the observation that the “everything-is-information meme violates common sense.” As of last December (at least) he hadn’t changed his mind. He referred […]

Testable thoughts?

Quanta magazine has a piece on a recent conference in Munich where scientists and philosophers discussed the history and future of scientific inquiry. The meeting seems to have been mostly motivated by two things. The first of these is found in the diminishing prospects for physics experiments – energy levels that can’t be reached by […]

The mathematics of common sense

I will be joining a few colleagues for a symposium at CogSci2014 and I’ve been gathering some notes for my talk. The talk will focus on the impact of embodiment theories on a philosophy of mathematics. As I looked again at some of the things I’ve chosen to highlight in my blogs, I came upon […]