1 + 1 = 3

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October 27, 2015 by Dr. Geyser

The Care of Self by Michel Foucault

Ever wonder why you suck at math? Or why you picked on mathheads in high school? Or college?!? Or why you prefer novels over mathematical treatises?

From a biological perspective, these are fairly normal responses to standard mathematical operations. For instance, when Darwin employed Malthus’ model of exponential population to explain the competitive behavior of biological organisms, he was implicitly rejecting the dogma of traditional mathematics, which held that 1+1=2. It turns out that, when living organisms engage in the act of coitus, the rules of mathematics cease to apply. And if it happens to be a threesome, we will probably need to engage a quantum physicist to help resolve all of our incommensurable entanglements and Heisenbergian uncertainties.

If you don’t believe that 1+1=3, you should probably seek out reconciliation with your parents. They didn’t need to believe it. They just did it, and it turned out to be true.

So when a jock beats up a nerd, we can take comfort in the fact that this is a side effect of competition between post-pubescent males. One plus one still equals two, right?

Or maybe mathematics isn’t about numbers at all? Number theory is only a small subfield of mathematics, and physicists teach students to save calculations for the end. So why bother teaching kids elementary math? If they are just going to screw it up as quantum adults?

School is about discipline. And it takes a great deal of it to deny what we know is biologically true. Peter Brown’s book on the sexuality of early Christians is particularly enlightening in this regard, especially for those who have read Foucault’s three-volume series on the history of sexuality. In any event, you should probably just read them all.

Your doctor recommends it.



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