Volume 16, Issue 2, 2019
David Svoboda, Prokop Sousedík
The Emergence of (Instrumental) Formalism and a New Conception of Science
According to formalism, a mathematician is not concerned with mysterious metaphysical entities but with mathematical symbols. As a result, mathematical entities become simply sensible signs. However, the price that has to be paid for this move seems to be too high, for mathematics, at present considered to be the queen of sciences, turns out to be a to a contentless game. That is why it seems absurd to regard numbers and all mathematical entities as mere symbols. The aim of our paper is to show the reasons that have led some philosophers and mathematicians to adopt the view that mathematical terms in the proper sense refer to nothing and mathematical propositions have no real content. At the same time we want to explain how formalism helped to overcome the traditional concept of science.