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Mathematics is the key to human development

Is mathematics the mother of all sciences? It is a fashionable science, the key to development. It is in every sector; computers, the economy, telecommunications, transport, health, cognitive psychology, sociology, linguistics, music, political science. UNESCO declared the landmark year of 2000 as international mathematics year. It organizes human thought, something we have a great need of as the world becomes more complex. It is a language of communication with concepts that can only be interpreted in one way – those of us who use it understand the same thing. It is a product of the human mind. Physics, chemistry, biology are sciences that try to understand what we are, and are oriented toward self-knowledge, something which is probably not feasible. Theories are continually being superseded by others. On the other hand, no mathematical theory since antiquity, from the time of the ancient Babylonians, has ever been refuted, precisely because it is a product of human minds. If people disappeared from the earth, there would be no mathematics, but all the laws of physics would still exist. Water would still boil at 100 degrees, objects would still fall vertically. What is frightening about mathematics is the concept of abstraction. We say three and we don’t think about three oranges, but simply three. The naked concept. You can’t avoid it, because that is the question, to be able to use the concept in different ways. Plato was the godfather of mathematics – he chose that name for the science because it is knowledge which can be learned and taught, since it contains objective truth (in contrast to ethics, for example, where there is no objective truth, there are as many truths as there are people). From this point of view, one could say that it is beneath other sciences. On the other hand, it is a tool which we are more and more in need of. As long as we evolve and our thought processes become more complex, we will have to codify them. Is that why it is the most important indicator of student performance? Whoever is good at mathematics has an organized mind, so they will be good at everything else. Whoever has common sense and can codify thoughts can use this in any other subject. What is its connection to music and philosophy? Music was in the Pythagorean branch of mathematics. They divided mathematics into four branches – static numbers (arithmetic), numbers in motion (music), static shapes (geometry) and shapes in motion (astronomy). Music was the dynamic development of numbers, astronomy the dynamic development of shapes. Musical composition calls precisely for organized and complex thought, a knowledge of harmony (analysis of harmony is a sector of mathematics). Philosophy and mathematics have a common boundary – principles, values. Philosophy does not accept any principle but seeks the principle of principles, while mathematics accepts the principles built upon it. In other words, they start from the same position but move in opposite directions. What comes first for a scientist, the challenge or the risk? You can’t stop the human mind from seeking. You can’t put limitations on research, which for a researcher is a 100-percent challenge. But then what challenge poses no risk? Who can say that the evolution of science should be banned because it involves risks? Humanity has experienced far worse, not knowing what the risks were. Today there are social and scientific safety valves. Pointing out risks is good in order to bring about realization, so that the destruction we cause does not occur at a faster rate than we can adjust to, biologically, as individuals. We are not living in a dismal but in an exciting age. Even the fact that we are aware of the risks posed by the challenges is a challenge in itself.