Real mathematics, real beer, and (specifically) real Berliner-Weisse

In my chapter in the Princeton Companion to Mathematics I comment on the word real in the title of David Corfield’s Philosophy of Real Mathematics:

“Real mathematics” for Corfield… is “real” in the same way as “real ale. ” I readily agree that skepticism to this sort of realism is self-defeating.

I am reminded of this because when a well-wisher advised me that “You might want to go see what they’re up to! Perhaps you will like their blog as much as they liked your comment!” I assumed the “they” he had in mind included Andreas Bogk, who not only wrote a particularly aggressive comment on the first of my “Pantheism” posts but then proudly tweeted about it.  I hadn’t looked at the follow-up:  apparently the aggressivity was a kind of put on, his vanishing from the scene after the comment was strategic, and the goal, which he claims to have successfully attained, was to induce me to react to the tone and thus “completely forget the substantive argument.”

To which I say, touché!  Maybe that’s what the well-wisher wanted me to see.  But I discovered something much more interesting, namely that Bogk, “Berlin hacker” and prominent member of the Pirate Party (and thus never a likely candidate to purchase my book in any form), was featured in Die Zeit for his efforts to revive the lost art of brewing Berliner-Weisse — or I should say “real Berliner-Weisse,” because the sole surviving brewery of the 100 that once specialized in the local beer now belongs to the Oetker conglomerate.   How ironic, then, that he fails to see how unchecked mechanization can lead to the absorption of mathematics by one of tomorrow’s Oetkers.



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