Is mathematics invented or discovered? Do mathematical objects pre-exist in some transcendental plane, are they abstractions of our sensory experiences, or are they just fictional objects invented by our minds? Would an alien species specify mathematical abstractions in a different way? These are the questions which are explored under the “Philosophy of mathematics”. Several competing theories such as Logicism, Intuitionism, Formalism and Platonism have been proposed to explain the nature of mathematics. Here, I shall present some insights by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother which are connected to this topic.
In the last chapter of his book “The Emperor’s New Mind”, Roger Penrose draws on his scientific career to offer insights into the spontaneous, aesthetic and non-algorithmic nature of mathematical insight, the non-verbal thought process of the scientist, and other topics related to what he calls the “physics of the mind”. Many of his remarks chime quite well with corresponding observations made by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on the nature of the thought process, as we see in this article.