"Mathematics is a lense through which you look at the world. But in a deeper sense, it's a mirror through which you look at yourself."
I find it somewhat ironic that this week's On Being, about the mathematican Keith Devlin, is how numbers apply to spiritual understanding. Just two weeks ago I was thinking hard about what numbers actually are. They represent nothing tangible physically. I came to the conclusion that numbers have literally know physical meaning. Yet, numbers mean so much to people. They mean everything. How we see and interpret the world is entirely grounded in how we understand numbers. At the same time though, we make these connections and we use these numbers without even realizing it. Our connection to them, is inherent regardless of what level of numerical education we possess. Numbers are a metaphysical representation through which we intrepret both the physical and the spiritual. As Devlin says, it is a way we look at the world but also a way we reflect upon ourselves.
I think his study is particularly fascinating, specifically how he views his online class, which has thousands of students throughout the world as more personal than a lecture in a classroom. He says it is because he speaks more directly to the student who must tune in online and see his lecture rather than divide his attention and their through everyone in the classroom. I think this also applies to how he says our understanding of mathematical knowledge must catch up to our technoloy for to really appreciate the connections it makes between the way we are, the way others are, and the way the universe is. After all, through mathematics we can see the world through a lens, but also look at a mirror into ourselves.
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