My ‘mathematician’ friends call me a ‘physicist’ and my ‘physicist’ friends call me a ‘mathematician’!. However, I don’t want to be a ‘mathematical physicist’ :D. This conflict between the so called ‘mathematical’ and the so called ‘physical’ approach had always existed in my mind. Now, I feel there is no room for such a conflict for, I have concluded that there is no real difference between them.
A person who propagates a new idea, or a new religion (or anything! ), has a two circles of followers around him. The 1st circle, is the immediate circle around him. It consists of people who follow his ideas, and understand them, to a certain extent. The second circle is often larger, consisting of people who merely follow him. They dont understand his ideas; they just appreciate them. They just get a feel of it. The real difference between the 1st and the 2nd circle is in the ability to defend the idea. The 1st circle is capable of defending the idea. The propagator is responsible for the idea and hence is able to defend it. The second circle, is often characterized by people shifting sides. One can easily jump from the 2nd circle of one idea to the 2nd circle of a different idea(most commanly the contrasting idea! :D). People in the 2nd circle are brought by just convincing them of the validity of the idea.
On the lines of the above story, a theory too has a propagator, a 1st circle and a 2nd circle. The so called physical approach, seldom lands anyone in the 1st circle. It is a good tool just to get convinced of the theory. Most of the so called physical reasonings are worthy observations, but fail in providing philosophical insights in to nature. There is nothing called the mathematical approach. Presence of large number of equations is not mathematics; There is just one approach, and we could call it the rational or, the logical approach!