When Newton saw an apple drop from an apple tree he had an epiphany. That epiphany was the concept of gravity. Even though no one before Newton had ever thought of gravity, it had always existed and had always made apples drop from trees. Newton “discovered” and put a name to the concept of an object being pulled towards the earth; he did not “invent” gravity. Just as gravity wasn’t “invented”, math wasn’t “invented”. It was “discovered.”
Math describes nature and the events in nature. Rabbits reproduce “exponentially”, energy is equal to mass multiplied by the speed of light squared, density equals mass divided by volume, etc. Math has been present long before man ever invented the first mathematical symbol. As long as there is nature and natural events, there is math.
Man has always had a sense of math. This sense of math was his ability to distinguish quantities. For example, a Neanderthal knew that the more deer he killed, the better. He had a sense of math in that he had a sense of the amount (or quantity) of those deer. That Neanderthal could not realize that killing thirty deer would provide him with more food than killing twenty deer (at least in terms of numerical value). What he would realize is that more deer provide him with more food. Although the Neanderthal did not have the knowledge of numbers, he still had a basic understanding of math when he established that more deer would be better than less deer.
Math illustrates the relationship between matter in the universe. Before math was discovered, it existed as relationships in nature. Now that we analyze math and invent symbols and numbers to express it more efficiently, it is still the same math that the Neanderthal experienced, just in a different form.
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Mathematics: Invented or Discovered?
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Direct Essays. "Mathematics: Invented or Discovered?
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Direct Essays, "Mathematics: Invented or Discovered?
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