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Philosophy/philosophy of number



As Pythagoras said everything is number. In the ancient days and pre-scientific days the number zero was not used. Numbers define the size, shape, motion, and color of an object. I mean how can number not describe  everything!?

Can numbers describe the state of mind? say when i feel happy or not?

overall is civilization better with the invention of number zero?

can zero(0) become one(1)? logically?

To answer your last question first, no. No number can "become" another number. What the number REPRESENTS can change. For example, computers work, at the deepest level, solely by changing zeros stored in a memory location) to ones and one to zeros. That's a chance of which number is stored, not a change in the number.

Then, in order:

Everything that is subject to quantification (the property of being able to be represented by a number) can be assigned a number, but not all things are quantifiable. For example, the contents of consciousness -- the "redness" of an apple, say -- cannot be quantified; it's hard to even describe them. Of course, we can ask if one apple is redder than another, we can tell exactly where on the visible light spectrum it falls (usually measured in angstroms) but none of these is equivalent to the content of consciousness itself. If you think of 1, for example, what quantifies the content of your consciousness? Nothing. You are thinking OF a quantity, but your thought exists quite independently of the number of which you are thinking; it is not the number itself.

Of course one can have a scale (say one to ten) of how happy you are, how much pain you are in, but the number you assign is not the happiness you feel; they're two different things.

Civilization is MUCH better with the invention of zero; computers couldn't be designed without it, and it makes arithmetic (even done in our heads) much easier.

Many physicists today think that, at the very deepest level of reality, Pythagoras was right. But that doesn't make our experiences any less real.

Hope this helps.




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Charles K. MacKay


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.)



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


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

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

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