Linguist Noel Rude kindly writes to express appreciation for mathematician David Berlinski’s defense of math, over against Darwin’s man, E. O. Wilson, who says math doesn’t matter so much to biology. Rude comments,
As to the endless discussion of the philosophy of science, again let me suggest that any epistemology rests on a triad of observation, reason, and authority. All inquiry variously exploits these three and no inquiry leaves any out. Should you question authority just consider that you cannot do it all on your own.
He adds, perhaps prophetically,
And then of course there is also the moral triad of curiosity, honesty, and faith. Cultures that lack curiosity—and they are legion—make no discoveries. And societies devoid of honesty—perhaps even more legion—conserve and expand authority with lies. And where would we be without faith in a stable world, faith in mathematics, and faith that we can know?
Perhaps in a world where there is no math and no scientific method?
Where science is simply the received opinion among people who get tenure and have grants?