From the M4W Archive

Kirby Urner
7 min readApr 16


Apr 15, 2023, 11:59 AM (19 hours ago)
to math4wisdom @ [adapted for Medium Apr 16 2023]

Replying to Andrius:

Kirby, I am thinking about your letter. I appreciate your fleshing out your position because it helps me to do so likewise and show perhaps that we are simply two sides of the same coin, relative and absolute. I’m interested that you point to Wittgenstein’s On Certainty and, if you were interested, I would be interested to go through his book, or parts of it, but especially with the intent of documenting the ways he figured things out.

I’ve started reading the Eugenia Cheng book you recommended, The Joy of Abstraction, plus I’ve been watching her on Youtube.

She talks a lot about context and absolute truth, in precisely those terms, making her thinking relevant to our conversations here.

I’ve got more time now. I’ve finished my first gig of 2023 with another one scheduled a few weeks away. I’ll post a little more frequently, maybe twice a week instead of once.

Dr. Cheng teaches category theory to artists in Chicago. She’s passionate about what she calls “pure math” and thinks many get turned off math in their schooling not because it’s too abstract, but because it’s not abstract enough — true at least for some people.

I’m sympathetic. No one insists that music be “practical” or “solve problems”.

Math has much in common with music, and indeed music might be considered a form of maths (if we stretch our definitions).

I always include chess and other such games when I’m circumscribing maths as a concept. Chess and checkers, including Chinese checkers, are definitely included.

How about tank wars? On a game board at least. But then that’s how the generals see it, in their situation rooms (as a “theater” wherein “war games” are now “for real”).

What is Maths or (as some call it) Math?

What I notice from



Kirby Urner