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The Voices of Math podcast is a new podcast from Kent Bye, creator of the popular podcast on virtual reality, the Voices of VR. Motivated by a strong curiosity about the ultimate potential of being human, Kent has been interviewing people since 2001. For more about Kent, please check out his main site, www.kentbye.com.

Why Math?

Math describes the underlying patterns of reality, and provides the foundations for every other major science. Having access to mathematical knowledge opens so many doors, but rather than feeling empowered through math, many people have been traumatized by their math educations. There’s an experiential and active learning revolution that’s happening within mathematics, and the Voices of Math podcast will be exploring it as well as the philosophy of Mathematics and the landscape for how various mathematical branches are mysteriously connected to each other.

Is Math Invented or Discovered?

In order to understand the best practices for learning math it helps to explore different philosophies about the nature of mathematical objects. “Is math invented or discovered?” is the right question to open up doors exploring a series of deep philosophical questions about the nature of reality.

  • Are mathematical objects “real” in some sort of transcendent Platonic realm of ideal forms?
    • Are mathematicians discovering the patterns of reality that are already there?
    • If math objects exist in an eternal realm beyond space and time, then how can humans interact with them?
  • Are math objects merely semantic descriptions that are socially constructed through language and rules that are collectively decided upon by the mathematics community?
    • If mathematics is created by humans, then why is it “unreasonably effective” in describing the nature of reality?
    • If science describes the boundaries of ontological reality, then should anything that’s “indispensable” to science (i.e. mathematical objects) also be considered real?
  • Are mathematical objects some sort of strange combination of invention and discovery that can provide us insight into the nature of human consciousness?

We’ll be exploring the landscape of mathematics through the lens of these philosophical debates, but also the stories, history, and anthropological lens of what mathematics teaches us about what it means to be human.