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Do you think numbers exist?

Posted Nov 15, '12 at 1:35pm

Moegreche

Moegreche

3,261 posts

Moderator

I personally have a platonic view of numbers, where they do exist, just not in space and time.


If you want to maintain that there is this Platonic heaven, then you're more than welcome to. You're going to vulnerable to 'third man' arguments, but it is what it is.
However Plato was not aware of set theory, which is a fairly reasonable and (mostly) straightforward way of defining numbers. So say that numbers themselves exist depends on your definition of a number. But you're not going to make that claim by itself without some sort of substantiation. So you might back off and just claim that sets exist, which is at least a more tenable approach.
Better still is to define numbers in terms of mathematical logic. This gets you out of a number of ontological difficulties and provides a very clean and efficient way of defining what a number is. But if you go that route, you're not going to be able to claim that numbers exist - at least, in any metaphysically significant (or recognized) sense of the word.

So maybe ask yourself 2 questions:
1) What is a number?
2) What is entailed by your notion of 'existence'?
 

Posted Nov 15, '12 at 7:14pm

xerox

xerox

515 posts

You are right ! Numbers do not exist. All those things with math, Litters, pounds and other things, are not real, they are made by us only because we cant live without naming things.

But everything that has a name exist. We give the name of the numbers and even if they don't exist now they do, so deal with it 1cat+1cat=2cats :3

 

Posted Nov 17, '12 at 11:29pm

Moegreche

Moegreche

3,261 posts

Moderator

This is a neat topic, I'm surprised not many people have posted. First off, there are some questions that I think are worth answering in my previous post. But in any case:

You could say that speech exists in your mind. Or you could say that speech is just a simpler term for saying that the neurons are firing off in your brain so that you can communicate with fellow members of your species. Or you could say that speech doesn't exist, there are only the vibrations in the air and the nerve signals going through your brain and forcing your muscles to contract and relax.


This seems to conflate the notions of sound, speech, and thought in a way that undermines the analogy. It's also worth noting that numbers don't have any of the salient features characterised by the analogy. So maybe find a different way to think about it - especially the sufficient conditions for something to qualify as existing.

You are right ! Numbers do not exist. All those things with math, Litters, pounds and other things, are not real, they are made by us only because we cant live without naming things.

But everything that has a name exist. We give the name of the numbers and even if they don't exist now they do, so deal with it 1cat+1cat=2cats :3


Not sure what you're on about here. Certainly not presenting a contradiction as an argument. So what are you trying to show?
 

Posted Nov 18, '12 at 5:10pm

BurnKush420

BurnKush420

103 posts

numbers are everything, they are patterns in nature, saying numbers dont exist is like saying that letters and writing dont exist.

 

Posted Nov 18, '12 at 10:20pm

hojoko

hojoko

562 posts

I think he means that we arbitrarily define many mathematical concepts, as in units of measurement (feet, meters, pounds, etc.). Numbers, however, aren't arbitrary. They are abstract representations of physical quantities, such as 1 cat.
This implies that numbers don't exist in a physical sense in the same way that dog (the abstract notion of a living creature) doesn't exist but Dog (the aptly albeit uncreatively named fuzzy thing slobbering on the floor) does.
In this case, numbers exist in the physical world as the quantities they represent

...Maybe

Of course, this all depends on your definition of existence. Does an abstraction actually exist (they're certainly apparent in our minds) or does something have to be physical to stake that claim?
To take it a step further, if abstractions exist, do abstractions of abstractions (such as i) exist, or does the possibility of abstracting the abstract prove the non-existence of abstractions?

 

Posted Nov 18, '12 at 10:42pm

ellock

ellock

395 posts

I think numbers do exist, just not in a real state. I think they are something that we now of and that exists, they just don't hold mass. They are ideas that all people can share. I also no people used numbers (in a way) before numbers even existed. People have clocks inside them and can tell the difference between to things quickly and even when these differences are small. This has been true since before the human race invented the idea of "numbers". I guess I am not fully convinced they exist, but I am pretty sure.here is the video about time perception

 
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