Physicist David Deutsch reflecting on mathematics (from his "

**The Fabric of Reality**"):

[There is] "...an ancient and widespread confusion between themethodsof mathematics and itssubject-matter. Let me explain. Unlike the relationships between physical entities, relationships between abstract entities are independent of any contingent facts and any laws of physics. They are determined absolutely and objectively by the autonomous properties of the abstract entities themselves. Mathematics, the study of these relationships and properties, is therefore the study ofabsolutely necessary truths. In other words, the truths that mathematics studies are absolutely certain. But that does not mean that our knowledge of those necessary truths is itself certain, nor does it mean that the methods of mathematics confer necessary truth on their conclusions. After all, mathematics also studies falsehoods and paradoxes. And that does not mean that the conclusions of such study are necessarily false or paradoxical.

"Necessary truth is merely thesubject-matterof mathematics, not the reward we get for doing mathematics. The objective of mathematics is not, and cannot be, mathematical certainty. It is not even mathematical truth, certain or otherwise. It is, and must be mathematical explanation."