- Wed Jul 28, 2021 7:08 pm
In looking for the Main Point (MP) of this passage, which wasn't readily apparent, we look for the MP in the typical places as we would for most passages on the LSAT, mainly the first and last five lines of the passages. Now, the first lines of the first paragraph introduces the idea that, to explain something in science is to use mathematics; in other words applied mathematics is the language of science. The passage then veers off into further delving into a more fundamental question, given that mathematics is the language of science, and given that science is charged with explaining, how exactly can we use mathematics, as we do language to describe this explanation of the real world, i.e., in line 14, what is the relationship between language and what the language is referring to. The passage goes on to consider two ways in which we can view language: as corresponding to some essential feature of the objects and ideas it describes, or as existing as an agreed-upon convention, meaning there is only an indirect relationship between language and the things it describes.
The passage then considers the implications of this second view. What happens if language fails to capture the essence of what its describing, especially as it relates to using language as a means of attaining knowledge. The passage reminds us that math is a language, and so if, like other languages, math is fundamentally limited in capturing the nature of that which it seeks to explain, then how we can ever attain true scientific knowledge of the world around us?
Now the final paragraph of the passage is where its "call to action" lies. And the "call to action" implores scientists, as it observes linguists have already begun to do, to really ask these questions as to the fundamental function of mathematics as a language to describing the nature of the world around us. It is this "call to action" that gives us the main idea of the passage, mainly that scientists must ask these questions, and thus D is the correct answer choice
Now, A is necessarily wrong because D is right. However, you would be very much within your own right in asking why D is the better answer than A. Allow me to pause here and state that, generally, this is the type of analysis you're going to be doing when answering Main Point questions. Given their nature, it won't be so much why one answer choice is wrong, per se, as much as it will be why the other answer choice is the better/best answer. Here D is the best answer because it captures that Call to Action in the last paragraph, and explains the reason for the call to action as defined in the passage as a whole. For A, the judgment that both math and language is an imperfect tool for perceiving and interpreting the physical world is a definitive stand on the debate over the nature of language described within the passage. I would agree that the author appears to take this side of the debate, implicitly at least, but I would disagree that such a take is the main point (it overlooks the final paragraph), and I would also disagree that the author intends for us to view the debate as a closed issue. Indeed, the nature of the prose, mostly presenting questions at the end, indicate, to me at least, that the author wishes us (and the world in general) to think more deeply on these issues. Thus, the debate is really an invitation for deeper philosophical inquiry on both epistemological and ontological grounds.
All of this to say, no conclusions have been reached, and thus A is not the correct conclusion for this question! Let me know if you have further questions though (that, you know, I would be able to answer!).