Paz & Gorm & Oliver & some other friends are all perplexed about mathematics. They think it is huge, and so important that all philosophy should just conform itself to Maths. The problem is, while they know that any data or knowledge can at best be an approximation and a simplification and a relative truth, they mysteriously miss the relativeness of Maths. And it is a shame, too, that they are perplexed, because Maths is such a simple, solved issue.
There’s a stupid Hugo-winning story that betrays some secret hopes which could be the actual source of confusion. In it, some folks find a way to alter the laws of Mathematics and this causes things to stop working and it is implied that, if they kept it for long enough, even protons would stop holding together in the heart of the atoms.
So maybe it is not that they miss the relativeness of Maths, but that they wish its truth would give them these arcane bizarre powers.
Granted, technology (and also Maths) has made possible all sorts of nifty tricks (and often scary ones), but just because we could change our behaviour in relation to things, not because we changed or touched some essence of things itself.
When Kepler invented a way to calculate the orbits of the planets, did it alter their movements?
Well, OK, if Maths was the heart of reality, that would explain why algebra is useful. But Occam stands in favour of it being just a shorthand, an easy way to perform the trick of guessing where the planets will be, or any other, for that matter. Just handy, not transcendental.