Mathematicians and philosophers always say that the universe is written in the language of mathematics. They often justify this by showing that almost everything can be explained mathematically, including the things that involve value judgement. Some scholars go as far as to say that mathematics is the most important discipline, and without it mankind could never achieve anything. Indeed, the inclination to mathematics is most evident in the academe, where almost all disciplines involve some kind of formal language to achieve such sophistication and rigor that is the hallmark of modern academic research.

Does this mean that there is no room in the 21st century for a “qualitative philosopher”?

  • If you like Swami's answer, you can click the check button and thus choose it as the best answer? Otherwise, you can explain in the comments why it doesn't answer your question. I think it answers your question perfectly. @user13945
    – user13847
    Mar 21 '15 at 0:03

The universe can be written in the language of mathematics, it explains how events in the universe seem to occur from our perspective. It does not explain what the universe is. You seem also to be confusing what mathematics actually does or explains. Wolfgang Pauli has written on this extensively. He said

...a mathematical formula can never tell us what a thing is, but only how it behaves; it can only specify an object through its properties. And these are unlikely to coincide in toto with the properties of any single microscopic object of our everyday life.

And Arthur Eddington:

For example, we may admire the triumph of patience of the mathematician in predicting so closely the positions of the moon, but aesthetically the lunar theory is atrocious; it is obvious that the moon and the mathematician use different methods of finding the lunar orbit...But now we realise that science has nothing to say as to the intrinsic nature of the atom. The physical atom is, like everything else in physics, a schedule of pointer readings...

...matter is something that Mr. X knows. Let us see how it goes: This is the potential that was derived from the interval that was measured by the scale that was made from the matter that Mr. X knows. Next question: What is Mr. X? Well it happens that physics is not at all anxious to pursue the question: What is Mr. X? It is not disposed to admit that its elaborate structure of a physical universe is "The House that Mr. X built."...matter, in some indirect way, comes within the purview of Mr. X's mind is not a fact of any utility for a theoretical scheme of physics. We cannot embody it in a differential equation. It is ignored, and the physical properties of matter and other entities are expressed in their linkages in the cycle. And you can see how by the ingenious device of the cycle physics secures for itself a self-contained domain for study with no loose ends projecting into the unknown. All other physical definitions have the same kind of interlocking. Electrical force is defined as something which causes motion of an electric charge; an electric charge is something that exerts something that produces motion of something that exerts something that produces...ad infinitum.

Both quotes are from Quantum Physics and Ultimate Reality: Mystical Writings of Great Physicists by Michael Green.

So yes, there is a great need for 'qualitative' philosophers. Qualitative philosophy is our attempt to try to see behind the veil, to understand what the universe is.

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