# maths or philosophy forum?

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My question would be an old chestnut: can 2+2 ever =5. I came up with a scenario where the answer, with little thought experiment, suggested "YES!

I put my idea to a university maths professor of my acquaintance. He said no, absolutely not, and politely implied I was a complete idiot and wasting his time.

Here is the scenario, which illustrates my dilemma whether maths or philosophy:

I place a bag upon a table, ask "how many"? answer 1. Another bag. Answer 2. I open one bag, inside are two peanuts. How many? 2. Open second bag, contents 1 peanut. How many? Some say 1, some say 3 in total. Now vary the number of bags, their contents, add bags within bags, and the possibilities are infinite.

My dilemma: Standard text book maths says no, human perception says yes.

Apologies. I clicked send when distracted before finishing the post. I wanted to add the following possible responses:

1. Maths is maths, human perception is entirely different, ne'er the twain shall meet (but I suggest that human perception and imagination was the inventor of maths)

2. gcol is indeed a complete idiot.

3.There is a branch of maths which deals with this problem, and it is.....

4.There isn't but perhaps there ought to be....

5. The scenario is merely a cheap after dinner coffee-table trick.

6 This old chestnut has been done to death and we are tired of it.

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My question would be an old chestnut: can 2+2 ever =5. I came up with a scenario where the answer, with little thought experiment, suggested "YES!

I put my idea to a university maths professor of my acquaintance. He said no, absolutely not, and politely implied I was a complete idiot and wasting his time.

Here is the scenario, which illustrates my dilemma whether maths or philosophy:

I place a bag upon a table, ask "how many"? answer 1. Another bag. Answer 2. I open one bag, inside are two peanuts. How many? 2. Open second bag, contents 1 peanut. How many? Some say 1, some say 3 in total. Now vary the number of bags, their contents, add bags within bags, and the possibilities are infinite.

My dilemma: Standard text book maths says no, human perception says yes.

But not maths, not philosophy either; just sloppy phrasing. Might not even work in some languages in which numbers and questions about number vary depending on what you are counting (ie containers versus foodstuff).

A mathematical or philosophical problem cannot depend at root on bad phrasing and sloppy use of language

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If '2' and '5' have their standard notational meaning (i.e. they are specific unique real numbers ) and '+' has it usual meaning, then 2+ 2 =5 is a false statement.

If you have other meanings for any of these notations then maybe it is true. But this is just poor notation given the standard meanings of what you wrote.

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My question would be an old chestnut: can 2+2 ever =5.

I place a bag upon a table, ask "how many"? answer 1. Another bag. Answer 2. I open one bag, inside are two peanuts. How many? 2. Open second bag, contents 1 peanut. How many? Some say 1, some say 3 in total. Now vary the number of bags, their contents, add bags within bags, and the possibilities are infinite.

I'm sorry but I must ask to to rephrase this as it makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.

The first sentence makes sense and in arithmetic the answer is no.

However the second is not complete since the question how many requires counting or enumeration and is only complete with how many of what?

There is indeed scope within set theory to address this and the theory straddles that part of logical thinking common to both mathematics and philosophy.

For instance the question How many sheep are in a field of 10 ewes and 5 lambs?

This is discussed in one of my books on the subject, I will try to look it out.

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I would probably describe this as a units and error problem,

2bags + 2bags = 5 +/- 1 peanuts

Where bags = 2.5 +/- 5 peanuts

As discussed above is really down to poor phrasing, not maths not philosophy.

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This reminds me of the old question: What's the difference between a duck?

You can't blame maths or philosophy because the question is poorly phrased. If it lacks context, then the question is the problem. Much like a post put in "Suggestions, Comments and Support" but contains nothing about the subject. (IOW, to which section shall this be moved?)

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1. Maths is maths, human perception is entirely different, ne'er the twain shall meet (but I suggest that human perception and imagination was the inventor of maths)

2. gcol is indeed a complete idiot.

3.There is a branch of maths which deals with this problem, and it is.....

4.There isn't but perhaps there ought to be....

5. The scenario is merely a cheap after dinner coffee-table trick.

6 This old chestnut has been done to death and we are tired of it

+1 for having the good humor to include this one.

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Your bag and peanut analogy seemed to stray off-topic and made little or no sense to me insofar as being an analogy of a way in which 2 + 2 could = 5.

Anyway, your answer here is "no." two and two will always be four, not five, not anything else, so long as the values of "2" remain true and constant and not subject to any sort of nebulous philosophical interpretation or deviance.

To posit that two and two CAN equal five is not to delve into the philosophies, but rather, mental masturbation.

Hope this helps, thanks!

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It reminds me of that "You have 11 fingers" joke.

Count up from 1 on the fingers of one hand, you end at 5. Count down from 10 on the fingers of your other hand, you end at 6.

5+6=11, ergo you have 11 fingers.

(Ignoring people with natural polydactylism, of course.)

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It reminds me of that "You have 11 fingers" joke.

That really confuses young children

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Thank you all for your responses. All noted, understood and well received, Those suggesting poor phrasing were food for thought.

Swansont..... I should have titled this post as "which would be the most suitable forum for this question?" If you think there may be some interest, can you suggest one? Otherwise I shall quietly fade away.

But, being not just an idiot but a stubborn one, as Galileo is rumoured to have muttered under his breath after having been forced to recant "And yet it does move!

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But, being not just an idiot but a stubborn one, as Galileo is rumoured to have muttered under his breath after having been forced to recant "And yet it does move!

If so, perhaps you can present the question in a way that doesn't rely on the ambiguity of language. For example, every time you state a number say what item is being counted.

I place a bag upon a table, ask "how many bags"? answer 1 bag. Another bag. Answer 2 bags. I open one bag, inside are two peanuts. How many peanuts? 2 peanuts. Open second bag, contents 1 peanut. How many peanuts? Some say 1 peanut in that bag, some say 3 peanuts in total.

There seems to be no great mystery there. You have shown that 2+1=3. Wow.

Or maybe the last question was "How many bags?"

Or did you mean "How many things?"

If you ask poorly phrased ambiguous questions you will get meaningless answers. GIGO.

My dilemma: Standard text book maths says no, human perception says yes.

Textbook says no to what?

Human perception says yes to what?

I should have titled this post as "which would be the most suitable forum for this question?"

Trash?

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