humans build models of nature using mathematics and then use those models to predict the future.My question is that wheather nature also uses mathematics to decide what to do next? if not how does nature decides what to do next in any situation?
Mathematics is a human invention for the sake of gaining knowledge about nature. Nature doesn't use math. Math is used to understand nature.
Nature doesn't "figure out", or "compute", or "decide" what to do next. Nature as such is not conscious, nor alive, and so has no use for mathematics.
Actually, since nature (meaning reality/identity) is not alive, nature has no goal nor purpose, and so nature never uses nor achieves anything. Nature, as such, is just things being what they are, and doing what they do (and, for the record, one of those actions, for some of those things, is choosing.)
Aspects of nature (such as animals) are alive, and so can use things, but only human beings use mathematics.
Making a decision implies making a conscious choice; an exercise of free will.
Nature doesn't have free will, so it doesn't make choices. It doesn't decide what to do next, nor does it "compute". Nature just IS; it happens. What happens may follow some physical laws that we can discover and model, but that doesn't mean nature is using those laws to make decisions. Actions in nature happen simply as a result of what and where things are.
answered Jan 20 '12 at 04:09
In case the questioner (or anyone else) is still puzzled, here is my own answer.
humans build models of nature using mathematics and then use those models to predict the future.
Where do the models come from? Objectivism holds that they ought to come from man's observations of nature, as man's identifications of how nature behaves. If one is using models of that kind, and if they are accurate descriptions of reality, then it should not be surprising in the least to find a high degree of agreement between the models and the actual reality.
I suspect, however, that the questioner may be troubled by models that do not come directly from reality, but nevertheless seem to predict reality reasonably well. It is entirely valid and appropriate to ask how that is possible. I've already indicated my own answer on that issue in another thread, here.
My question is that wheather nature also uses mathematics to decide what to do next? if not how does nature decides what to do next in any situation?
Others have already pointed out that this formulation implies that nature is conscious and makes conscious decisions. If "nature" includes man, then certainly man is conscious and makes conscious decisions. Non-human nature, however, does not. Ayn Rand referred to non-human nature as "insentient nature":
When applied to physical phenomena, such as the automatic functions of an organism, the term "goal-directed" is not to be taken to mean "purposive" (a concept applicable only to the actions of a consciousness) and is not to imply the existence of any teleological principle operating in insentient nature.
(See "Goal-Directed Action" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.)
As a simple example of how man's ideas can relate to reality, consider the mathematical relation, 2 + 2 = 4 (or "two pairs make four"). If one derives this from reality, one probably will base it on the concept of counting, which depends on "countable units." One will observe that pairs have a count of two, and that when one combines two pairs, the resulting count of the combination turns out to be four. Does "nature" somehow use "2+2=4" to "decide" that combining two pairs should give a count of four? No. Nature (insentient nature) is what it is. If two countable units are combined with two other countable units, all the original units still exist. One can count them and get four. The rest of mathematics and the other sciences ought to be built up in similar fashion, and had to be built up that way at least implicitly by some observers, in order to endure and be applicable to reality.
To be sure, man can imagine other possible relationships and project their implications as one moves ever higher in levels of abstraction from reality. But as long as there is a definite path of connections back to the most concrete level, man's science will be on a sound footing. The context of his identifications will remain well defined, and cases where past identifications are checked against new contexts will either expand man's understanding of the context of applicability of his principles, or lead him to discover new principles in operation in reality.
If the questioner has never done this -- conscientiously and consistently connecting his scientific abstractions to reality -- confusion about why or how the abstractions apply to reality is bound to persist.
answered Jan 27 '12 at 02:01
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