The Invention of Mathematics

The Invention of Mathematics

 Author: Allison Rogers


 

It has been claimed that mathematics was invented. This claim is absurd.

Ponder the following mathematical truth: 2 + 2 = 4. Two and two sticks are four sticks, two and two goats are four goats, two and two groundhogs are four groundhogs. The item in question is irrelevant. Two plus two equals four regardless of time and place. To claim that addition was invented, one would have to agree that before its creation, two and two did not equal four or at least did not necessarily equal four. But to grant that inconsistency would undermine the entire addition and mathematic processes. One must accept that addition is true at all times and places in order to use it in proofs; otherwise, one would be unable to prove anything by it. One cannot invent truth; it can only be discovered.

Additionally, mathematics in and of itself is conceptual. It cannot be contained in writing, only represented. The idea of "four" does not depend upon it having been written. The Arabic numeral "4" means the same as the Roman numeral "IV", or as four vertical lines. True numbers are purely conceptual and universal. "Four," as an idea, is the same idea independent of language or culture. Unlike mathematics, however, inventions are not inherently true.

As numbers and addition were not invented, nor was mathematics. The discipline takes these and other universally true concepts and applies them through its various branches to find solutions and make discoveries. Beyond simply its practical application, mathematics demonstrates man's capacity to comprehend objective truth.

 

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