What is a number?
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11-08-2016, 02:42 PM
What is a number?
Hi,

This is one of those questions that takes us to the boundaries of reasoning.

https://welovephilosophy.com/2012/12/17/...ers-exist/

The link is an intro, but there is plenty of argument out there. What's your view?

D.
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11-08-2016, 02:55 PM
RE: What is a number?
(11-08-2016 02:42 PM)Dworkin Wrote:  Hi,

This is one of those questions that takes us to the boundaries of reasoning.

https://welovephilosophy.com/2012/12/17/...ers-exist/

The link is an intro, but there is plenty of argument out there. What's your view?

D.

Yes numbers exist. As concretes no, as concepts yes. Just like the laws of logic exist. They're conceptual in nature.

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11-08-2016, 03:00 PM
RE: What is a number?
(11-08-2016 02:42 PM)Dworkin Wrote:  Hi,

This is one of those questions that takes us to the boundaries of reasoning.

https://welovephilosophy.com/2012/12/17/...ers-exist/

The link is an intro, but there is plenty of argument out there. What's your view?

D.

Why would a concept be at the boundary of reason when reason is the conceptual faculty?

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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11-08-2016, 04:41 PM
RE: What is a number?
(11-08-2016 02:42 PM)Dworkin Wrote:  Hi,

This is one of those questions that takes us to the boundaries of reasoning.

https://welovephilosophy.com/2012/12/17/...ers-exist/

The link is an intro, but there is plenty of argument out there. What's your view?

D.

NOUN

1An arithmetical value, expressed by a word, symbol, or figure, representing a particular quantity and used in counting and making calculations:
think of a number from one to ten and multiply it by three
even numbers


Oxford English dictionary.

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12-08-2016, 06:46 AM
RE: What is a number?
A number is an descriptive tool. Numbers have uses in describing physical reality, as well as being interesting to explore in their own right. A number can be carried as data between physical systems and can stored as data within physical systems. As the mind is to the brain so a number is to the data that carries it.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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12-08-2016, 11:13 AM
RE: What is a number?
"Novels are invented by humans, while, on most views of the subject, numbers exist whether or not humans ever happened to discover them."

Ummmm, I'm gonna go ahead here and say.... No.
It sounds like this is confusing number with quantity.
Quantities exist whether or not humans "discover" them, but the numbers are just a descriptive tool for the quantities.

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12-08-2016, 11:22 AM
RE: What is a number?
When you burn a number - it's something entirely different...

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12-08-2016, 11:29 AM
RE: What is a number?



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12-08-2016, 08:59 PM
RE: What is a number?
The actual number, 3 or 10 or whatever, is simply a level we place on something. What we call 3 is simply shorthand for one object and another object and another object, or for a set containing that many objects. I could call that splork if I wanted to and it would be just as valid.

The 3 does not exist outside of human minds. Without minds to hold onto these labels they do not exist. There will still be collections of objects, but the concepts of numbers won't. Concepts require minds to conceptualize them.
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13-08-2016, 05:49 PM
RE: What is a number?
Numbers are conceptual abstractions that we attempt to use to describe the world around us. They are essentially patterns that we have decided were interesting, gave precise definitions for, and then started looking around to try to figure out if there were any examples of things in the world around us arranged in those patterns. Numbers are largely human inventions, though. They are descriptions of ideas, not properties of the universe.

As a different example, let's consider the concept of PLAID. What does it take for something to be PLAID? For starters it should show a multi-colored criss-cross pattern, though there may be some debate about whether that's enough to count as plaid, and some more about how close to it is close enough. Let's say we defined it precisely. Does simply defining it precisely cause something plaid to spring into existence where no plaid thing was before? No. Does NOT having this concept defined cause something that was (quite coincidentally) plaid to not exist? No. In essence, our concept of plaid is a set of conditions. IF it meets requirements A B C and D, then it falls into the class of plaid things.

Or as another thought, let's define the conceptual measure of an acre. This exists ONLY as a concept. It is a concept that can describe things in the real world, but it is still just a concept. It doesn't exist in the real world. Arbitrarily-divided pieces of land that can be measured as acres do, but the measurement "acre" itself does not. This is again a conceptual class. IF it meets these geometric requirements, then it's measure is an acre. But the concept of acre does not, itself, exist in any particular 1-acre parcel of land.

But the concept DOES exist in the real world, because it exists in our brains, and our brains exist in the real world, and it is described in books, and the books exist in the real world. So long as one copy of the concept of an acre exists anywhere, then acres exist... and so does plaid, and so do numbers.

But destroy every brain with those concepts in them, burn all the books, wipe all the computers, and so on, censor it completely, erase the idea from the universe, and you destroy the concept. The things that the concept describes would still exist -- we'd still have, for example, flowers with what we (with the concept of 12) would call 12 petals -- but the concept of 12 would be gone. The concept exists WITHIN space and time, but only to the degree that it is conceptualized.

.... outside of space and time? What is that? What does the word "exist" even mean when we're talking about existence outside of space and time? It's undefined, and you can't (well, shouldn't) do philosophy with undefined terms.
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