green numbers give full details.     |    back to list of philosophers     |     unexpand these ideas

Ideas of Mark Steiner, by Text

[American, fl. 2007, At Columbia University, then Professor at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.]

1978 Mathematical Explanation
p.32 p.32 Maybe an instance of a generalisation is more explanatory than the particular case
     Full Idea: Maybe to deduce a theorem as an instance of a generalization is more explanatory than to deduce it correctly.
     From: Mark Steiner (Mathematical Explanation [1978], p.32)
     A reaction: Steiner eventually comes down against this proposal, on the grounds that some proofs are too general, and hence too far away from the thing they are meant to explain.
p.34 p.34 Explanatory proofs rest on 'characterizing properties' of entities or structure
     Full Idea: My proposal is that an explanatory proof makes reference to the 'characterizing property' of an entity or structure mentioned in the theorem, where the proof depends on the property. If we substitute a different object, the theory collapses.
     From: Mark Steiner (Mathematical Explanation [1978], p.34)
     A reaction: He prefers 'characterizing property' to 'essence', because he is not talking about necessary properties, since all properties are necessary in mathematics. He is, in fact, reverting to the older notion of an essence, as the core power of the thing.
p.36 p.36 Particular essence is often captured by generality
     Full Idea: Generality is often necessary for capturing the essence of a particular.
     From: Mark Steiner (Mathematical Explanation [1978], p.36)
     A reaction: The most powerful features of an entity are probably those which are universal, like intelligence or physical strength in a human. Those characteristics are powerful because they compete with the same characteristic in others (perhaps?).