According to formalism a mathematician is not concerned with mysterious meta-physical entities but with mathematical symbols themselves. Mathematical entities, on this view, become mere sensible signs. However, the price that has to be paid for this move looks to be too high. Mathematics, which is nowadays considered to be the queen of the sciences, thus turns out to be a content-less game. That is why it seems too absurd to regard numbers and all mathematical entities as mere symbols. T e aim of our paper is to show the reasons that have led some philosophers and mathemati¬cians to accept the view that mathematical terms in a proper sense do not refer to anything and mathematical propositions do not have any real content. At the same time we want to explain how formalism helped to overcome the traditional concept of science.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.