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The Utterly Prosaic Connection between Physics and Mathematics

School of Mathematics and Statistics, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
Philosophies 2018, 3(4), 25;
Received: 5 September 2018 / Revised: 17 September 2018 / Accepted: 17 September 2018 / Published: 20 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Natural Philosophy and Philosophies - Part 1)
Eugene Wigner famously argued for the “unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics” as applied to describing physics and other natural sciences in his 1960 essay. That essay has now led to some 58 years of (sometimes anguished) philosophical soul searching—responses range from “So what? Why do you think we developed mathematics in the first place?”, through to extremely speculative ruminations on the existence of the universe (multiverse) as a purely mathematical entity—the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis. In the current essay I will steer an utterly prosaic middle course: Much of the mathematics we develop is informed by physics questions we are trying to solve; and those physics questions for which the most utilitarian mathematics has successfully been developed are typically those where the best physics progress has been made. View Full-Text
Keywords: mathematics; physics; philosophical foundations mathematics; physics; philosophical foundations
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Visser, M. The Utterly Prosaic Connection between Physics and Mathematics. Philosophies 2018, 3, 25.

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