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Volume 12: Pages 592-597, 1999
The Most General Functions of Mathematics in Physical Sciences
University of Gdańsk, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, ul. Bielańska 5, 80-851 Gdańsk, Poland
This paper is an attempt to present the most general functions of mathematics in natural sciences. First, mathematics is a “generator” of mathematical categories used in natural sciences. In this sense, mathematics is a science about the tools of cognition which it creates or perfects. Second, mathematics plays the role of a “prism” through which we view the world, because some phenomena, e.g., from the micro‐ and macroworlds, can only be seen through the prism of mathematical structures and notions. And third, mathematics is also a “selector” of cognitive content. It eliminates from the cognitive field those phenomena which presently cannot be grasped by the existing mathematical structures. It is worth noticing that the functions of mathematics selector and prism are complementary in some sense—although they are opposites (prism lets you “see” something, and selector restricts this “seeing”), they don't exclude each other.
Keywords: mathematics, mathematical structures, functions of mathematics, tools of cognition
Received: February 22, 1999; Published online: December 15, 2008