An intriguing argument by mathematician Connes in this spirited conversation with neurobiologist Changeux is that a mathematical reality exists independently of the human mind. For example, he considers it improbable that the cosmic harmony of the Jovian satellites orbiting in consonance with Kepler's laws is a product of the human brain. Thus, although an understanding of the brain as a tool may lead to expanded knowledge, Connes denies that such understanding will alter mathematical reality. However, Changeux believes that the concept of an immutable mathematical reality is merely "the fascination that the created object exerts upon its creator," and he rejects the idea that a "totally organized mathematical system exists in nature waiting to be gradually discovered." Among various other fascinating ideas discussed is the role of the brain's limbic system in cognition, such as how the emotions aroused by a pleasurable hypothesis may serve as a guide to a solution.Brenda Grazis--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
When reading this account of a series of conversations between Jean-Pierre Changeux and Alain Connes, two main themes emerge. The first is how little progress there has been made in the philosophy of mathematics and knowledge since the time of Plato and the second is how much fun it is to discuss it. Changeux is Director of the Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory at the Institut Pasteur and Connes is a previous winner of the Fields Medal for mathematical excellence. His prime areas of work are in … more