It has been one of the strange and unexamined features of contemporary philosophy that philosophical as well as technical concern with the formal sciences — formal logic and mathematics, formal syntax and semantics — has been taken to be an ally of a positivistic, formalistic and (narrowly) analytic philosophical perspective. I believe that upon closer questioning, this alleged alliance breaks down, and the prima facie neutrality of the concern with formalism leaves room for a great diversity of philosophical standpoints — from a Platonic to a Kantian, to name two familiar contrasting positions. It is also a philosophically unexamined point of view, which requires that an understanding of the nature of the formal sciences must itself be formalistic, that you truely understand the nature of a formal discipline when you embed it in a meta — discipline of the same nature. There is certainly a sense of "understanding" in which this is the case. But there is a sense of "understanding", a sense that is of central importance to philosophy — in which one can ask questions about the formal sciences which do not permit any non-trivially formalised answer.
Mohanty, J.N. (1991)., Husserl's formalism, in T. M. Seebohm, D. Føllesdal & J. N. Mohanty (eds.), Phenomenology and the formal sciences, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 93-105.
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