You are here:

Philosophy/the philosophy of number

Advertisement


Question
Hello.

A number/quantity is basically 1, 2, 3 and upward. a non-number/non-quantity is zero(0). "One" can represent existence itself; "zero" can represent nothingness. One(1) "thing" can mean unity/oneness of existence; it IS EXISTENCE.  One "thing" among other things is like a fraction of a whole, one among many; like there are parts to a whole. Having parts mean there is space separating matter.

A philosopher once said "all is number".  First question: If that is true  can numbers explain the why questions?  Let's say in the beginning there was nothing in existence, not even time.  Second Question: how does one turn nothingness(0) into "something"(1), as we see now in creation.  Can numbers explain this fascinating event? Nothingness became something!

Matter is made of subatomic particles/entities.  Third Question: can something exist and not move? Motion/vibration seems to be the key to a  particles existence!  If they stopped moving/vibrating, they would cease to exist?

Fourth Question: can we quantify/equation-ize the existence of motion?  Motion is what make the universe go round.

Answer
Wow! Not a small set of questions!

For your second and third questions, I'd encourage you to read "Why Does the Universe Exist?" by Jim Holt. It's an excellent, non-technical summary of the best contemporary thought in this area.
Also see:

http://van.physics.illinois.edu/qa/listing.php?id=840

For numbers in general, see:

http://plato.stanford.edu/search/searcher.py?query=number

Separateness, strangely, does not have to mean space separating matter. The elements of the set {1,2,3} are separate, but there's no space between them.. They're logical, not material, entities.

Can numbers explain the "why" questions? Probably not. I can't see any way that simple quantity could explain why a particular act is good, or why a particular behavior displays a kind of virtue.

Particles can (in theory) stop moving at absolute zero. But even there, they have zero-point motion. See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-point_energy

If they stopped vibrating they wouldn't cease to exist, but they can't stop vibrating.

Hope this helps.

Regards,

Charlie  

Philosophy

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Charles K. MacKay

Expertise

I can answer a number of questions in philosophy; my academic concentrations (graduate school at Cornell) are ethics, political philosophy, and 19th-century German philosophy (Marx, Hegel, and hangers-on.)

Experience

EDUCATION:

BA, New College, 1971, Philosophy and Religion
Awarded four graduate fellowships upon graduation

MA, Cornell University, 1974
Social and Political Philosophy, Danforth Fellowship

All course work and dissertation drafts completed for Ph.D. Cornell University, 1971-1975, Social and Political Philosophy, Danforth Fellowship

Courses in statistics and microeconomics, George Washington University and The American University, 1976-1978

EXPERIENCE: Health Insurance Specialist 2005 - Present
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service
US Department of Health and Human Services

Allentown Business School Instructor (Computer Science) 2003 - 2005

Northampton Community College
Adjunct Professor of Philosophy 2003 -2005

Lehigh County Community College
Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Computer Science


PUBLICATIONS:

Medicare Made Easy (with Charles B. Inlander) Addison-Wesley, 1989

Good Operations, Bad Operations (with Charles B. Inlander) Viking Press, 1993

Health Rebooted: Information Changes Everything (in press), 2008


Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Arts, Philosphy and Religion, New College, 1971 Master of Arts, Social and Political Philosophy, Cornell University, 1975

Awards and Honors
Danforth Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson Fellowship

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.