‘Real-Life Mathematics’ Applied in Actual Experience (with Special Focus on Philippine Politics)


Differentiation, classification, quantification, and specification.[1] . . . These are the four basic “mathematical” aspects of human experience that lead to knowledge. Well, we’re not talking here of mathematics as we know it in the academic sense. This is not “school” mathematics. Notwithstanding, these are what we get into when we study mathematics. But we can go beyond “purely academic” mathematics and apply them to life experience. In other words, there is something “mathematical” in life as we get more focused on certain issues that need analysis because the fundamental task of mathematics is analysis. In the present discussion, I wish to focus more specifically on the issue of differentiation and classification applied to certain important matters concerning Philippine politics.

There are people who are good at maths. In fact, many believe that in many cases, being so is a gift, i.e., a talent. We’ve got professional mathematicians, statisticians, maths professors, engineers, architects, among others. But there are those who, more than being afraid of maths, are actually resentful of it. They don’t like maths and they mean maths that they had in school.

Nevertheless, we have not been aware that maths is one basic stuff in life, take it, or leave it. Forget the numbers, the operations, the equations, and everything related to it in school. Just think of its more practical functions which in the present discussion involve differentiation and classification. We have failed in these areas a lot of times. We have got used to “zooming into” or “telescoping” individual instances that need differentiation. We fail to differentiate. We’ve got the tendency to put all the eggs in one basket, so to speak because we see them as all the same when in fact, they only have certain similar features but are actually different from each other.

As a case in point, we have failed to differentiate between showbiz and politics and sports and politics as well. We have failed to distinguish, for example, Manny Pacquiao in the boxing ring and Manny Pacquiao running for a government post. Telescoping the situation is committing the failure of properly analyzing that boxing is different from taking responsibility for matters of the legislature. We have got used to always cheering for him every time he enters the ring because we know he is an ace pugilist, a champion. And we likewise cheered for him when he entered the august hall of the Philippine Senate while entertaining the inaccurate notion that if he was good in the ring, he should also be in the Senate. And we were dead wrong.

Classification is another “mathematical” aspect where we’ve got into and been misled as we’ve done it inaccurately. We’ve classified things wrongly and all the ensuing circumstances that have been going on just fail to fit into the right boxes. It is another failure of analysis as we have allowed ourselves to be influenced and beguiled by the made-up stories of paid scriptwriters tasked to perfume the persona of a self-proclaimed hero whose achievements are artificially and superficially glossed over his real less impressive person and performance.

On this issue, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the incumbent president of the Philippines, is a leading example. Filipinos have misclassified him and a lot of those who have committed this one heck of a misdoing now constitute a group of a much-maligned bunch of stupid and brainless mob called DDS or “Digong Diehard Supporters” (a spin-off of the original DDS which were the notorious henchmen of Duterte when he was the mayor of Davao City, known as the “Duterte Death Squad”). The misclassification of Duterte as an able government leader has led the country to an intensification of crimes, widespread corruption, and the general mismanagement of the national economy.

Mathematics, more than meets the eye, have more significant functions in our daily lives. And as have been pointed out at the beginning, we are not talking here of the more technical and specific field to which we were formally introduced in school and which many of us nowadays have learned to hate.


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Prof. Ruel F. Pepa is a Filipino philosopher based in Madrid, Spain. A retired academic (Associate Professor IV), he taught Philosophy and Social Sciences for more than fifteen years at Trinity University of Asia, an Anglican university in the Philippines.


[1] Cf. “How Fundamental is Mathematics?” https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/the-fundamental-role-of-mathematics/?fbclid=IwAR3dL2LPu5njureWyvK-i7Koh54v4qSMxSFY7QavayuSB7lgW5s4w4gOJ0s

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