To borrow a phrase from Galileo: What does it mean that the story of the creation is "written in the language of mathematics?" This book is an attempt to understand the natural world, its consistency, and the ontology of what we call laws of nature, with a special focus on their mathematical expression. It does this by arguing in favor of the Essentialist interpretation over that of the Humean and Anti-Humean accounts. It re-examines and critiques Descartes’ notion of laws of nature following from God’s activity in the world as mover of extended bodies, as well as Hume’s arguments against causality and induction. It then presents an Aristotelian-Thomistic account of laws of nature based on mathematical abstraction, necessity, and teleology, finally offering a definition for laws of nature within this framework.
"What is 'A Law of Nature'? It's a question that's vexed philosophers and scientists ever since Descartes first coined the term. Fr. Andrew Younan explores it in this insightful book. After carefully reviewing the positions of Humeans and Anti-Humeans, he employs the philosophy of Aristotle and Aquinas to argue for an essentialist understanding. His study leads him back to the beginnings of modern science and then forward to quantum mechanics. The philosophical account of how the laws of nature arise from observed regularities in the world is followed by a theological discussion of the nature and action of the Lawgiver."~from the foreword by Michael J. Dodds, OP
"Andrew Younan’s remarkable argument joins a patient sifting of the suppositions of mathematical physics to a sustained reflection on abstraction as understood by Aristotle and Aquinas. The yield is considerable: a convincing account of what one should take a law of nature to be."~Christopher Blum, Augustine Institute
"Massively well-informed by both ancient and contemporary debates, Matter and Mathematics explains how modern science and mathematics reveal a world of things working according to their inherent natures. Aristotle's vision, once thought superseded by modern science, here receives a clear and powerful defense that makes an Aristotelian realism about essential properties and laws of nature again a leading contender in the metaphysics of science."~James Franklin, University of New South Wales
"Fr. Younan expertly lays out the fundamental arguments of the Essentialist, Platonist, and Humeanist viewpoints of mathematics. His delivery is compelling and, as a mathematician myself, it kept me engaged in the philosophical underpinnings. Mathematics is often reduced to being a tool, but this text demonstrates the need for the subject to be elevated to help connect the abstract with the real."~Brian Mulholland, University of Notre Dame
"Younan’s work is a refreshing, briskly argued addition to recent debates about the nature of the laws of nature that avoids pointless detours into their details without eschewing their necessary substance."~Thomistica.net