Date: Nov 30, 2012 1:17 PM
Subject: What are sets? again
The following is an account about what sets are, first I'll write the
exposition of this base theory in brief, then I'll discuss some
Language: FOL + P, Rp
P stands for "is part of"
Rp stands for "represents"
Axioms: Identity theory axioms +
I. Part-hood: P partially orders the universe.
ll. Supplementation: x P y & ~ y P x -> Exist z. z P y & ~ x P z.
Def.) atom(x) <-> for all y. y P x -> x P y
Def.) x atom of y <-> atom(x) & x P y.
Def.) c is a collection of atoms iff for all y. y P c -> Exist z. z
atom of y.
Def.) c is atomless <-> ~ Exist x. x atom of c
lll. Representation: x Rp c & y Rp d -> (x=y<->c=d)
lV. Representatives: x Rp c -> atom(x)
V. Null: Exist! x. (Exist c. x Rp c & c is atomless).
A Set is an atom that uniquely represents a collection of atoms or
absence of atoms.
Def.) Set(x) <-> Exist c. (c is a collection of atoms or c is
atomless) & x Rp c & atom(x)
Here in this theory because of lV there is no need to mention atom(x)
in the above definition.
Set membership is being an atom of a collection of atoms that is
uniquely represented by an atom.
Def.) x e y iff Exist c. c is a collection of atoms & y Rp c & x atom
of c & atom(y)
Here in this theory because of lV there is no need to mention atom(y)
in the above definition.
Vl. Composition: if phi is a formula in which y is free but x not,
[Exist y. atom(y) & phi] -> [Exist x. x is a collection of atoms &
(for all y. y atom of x <-> atom(y) & phi)] is an axiom.
Vll. Pairing: for all atoms c,d Exist x for all y. y e x <-> y=c or
This theory can interpret second order arithmetic. And I like to think
of it as a base theory on top of which any stronger set theory can
have its axioms added to it relativized to sets and with set
membership defined as above, so for example one can add all ZFC axioms
in this manner, and the result would be a theory that defines a model
of ZFC, and thus proves the consistency of ZFC. Anyhow this would only
be a representation of those theories in terms of different
primitives, and it is justified if one think of those primitives as a
more natural than membership, or if one think that it is useful to
explicate the later. Moreover this method makes one see the Whole
Ontology involved with set\class theories, thus the bigger picture
revealed! This is not usually seen with set theories or even class
theories as usually presented, here one can see the interplay between
sets and classes (collections of atoms), and also one can easily add
Ur-elements to this theory and still be able to discriminate it from
the empty set at the same time, a simple approach is to stipulate the
existence of atoms that do not represent any object. It is also very
easy to explicate non well founded scenarios here in almost flawless
manner. Even gross violation of Extensionality can be easily
contemplated here. So most of different contexts involved with various
maneuvering with set\class theories can be easily
paralleled here and understood in almost naive manner.
In simple words the above approach speaks about sets as being atomic
representatives of collections (or absence) of atoms, the advantage is
clearly of obtaining a hierarchy of objects. Of course an atom here
refers to indivisible objects with respect to relation P here, and
this is just a descriptive atom-hood that depends on discourse of this
theory, it doesn't mean true atoms that physically have no parts, it
only means that in the discourse of this theory there
is no description of proper parts of them, so for example one can add
new primitive to this theory like for example the primitive "physical"
and stipulate that any physical object is an atom, so a city for
example would be an atom, it means it is descriptively an atom as far
as the discourse of this theory is concerned, so atom-hood is a
descriptive modality here. From this one can understand that a set is
a way to look at a collection of atoms from atomic perspective, so the
set is the atomic representative of that collection, i.e. it is what
one perceives when handling a collection of atoms as one descriptive
\discursive whole, this one descriptive\discursive whole is actually
the atom that uniquely represents that collection of atoms, and the
current methodology is meant to capture this concept.
Now from all of that it is clear that Set and Set membership are not
pure mathematical concepts, they are actually reflecting a
hierarchical interplay of the singular and the plural, which is at a
more basic level than mathematics, it is down at the level of Logic
actually, so it can be viewed as a powerful form of logic, even the
added axioms to the base theory above like those of ZFC are really
more general than being mathematical and even when mathematical
concepts are interpreted in it still the interpretation is not
completely faithful to those concepts. However this powerful logical
background does provide the necessary Ontology required for
mathematical objects to be secured and for
their rules to be checked for consistency.
But what constitutes mathematics? Which concepts if interpreted in the
above powerful kind of logic would be considered as mathematical? This
proves to be a very difficult question. I'm tending to think that
mathematics is nothing but "Discourse about abstract structure", where
abstract structure is a kind of free standing structural universal.
Anyhow I'm not sure of the later. I don't think anybody really
succeeded with carrying along such concepts.