Questions from middle schoolers V: Where do mathematicians come from?

Were mathematicians chosen by god?

I could get into trouble here, so let me refocus on a related, profound question that mathematicians struggle with…

Do we “discover” or “invent” mathematics? That is, does mathematics exist in the universe, like the Sun does, and we discover it? Or is it something that never would have existed without us, like automobiles, and we invent it?

If you think it’s discovered, you are called a “Platonist,” after the Greek philosopher. If you think it’s invented, you might be a “formalist”. Either way, it’s a lovely debate to have with yourself. Careful…it might keep you awake at night.


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