[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [xmca] a minus times a plus

not sure if "Western civilization prioritizes (and then
mathematizes) social relations described in the Arabic wisdom"
is a fair statement.  but mathematical models are just models,
and do not absolve the user of the need to think critically.

now i get sceptical even of my own example of -2 × -3.  in
real life (esp. in places that do not practice Islamic banking
or follow the Tanakh / Old Testament prohibition on usury),
when you borrow money, banks charge you interest.  [hmmmm ...
this sounds like a huge part of the "civilized world".]  so
-2 × -3  may not be a good way to cancel a debt incurred by
borrowing $3 two times (2 × -3).  the funny thing i never
understand is: when you are in trouble, the banks do not bail
you out.  they slap you with more interest charges, late-payment
penalties, lawsuits, eviction notices, ... etc.  but when the
banks are in trouble, you bail them out.

i'm pretty sure _this_ aspect of "math" is _merely_ socially


2009/4/30 Eugene Matusov <ematusov@udel.edu>:
> Dear everybody--
> In response to Mike's profound inquiry of why a minus times a minus is a
> plus, I was thinking that it is a mathematical model of the Arabic wisdom
> that "an enemy of my enemy is my friend." Of course, the latter is not
> always true -- we have plenty of examples when enemy of our enemy is still
> our enemy (or just indifferent) and, thus, for these types of social
> relations, the mathematical model of (-1) x (-1) =1 does not work. Just
> consider, for an example, the relations among the US, Al-Qaida, and Saddam
> Hussein.
> The issue for me is why the Western civilization prioritizes (and then
> mathematizes) social relations described in the Arabic wisdom. One answer is
> because "the real world" works according to these social relations (i.e.,
> the social relations is just an example of the truth out there). An
> alternative explanation is that the Western civilization can afford and
> might be even benefit from imposing these social relations on "the real
> world" that by itself is indifferent to any social relations (and thus
> mathematical models). Any other explanations?
> What do you think?
> Eugene
xmca mailing list