Philosophy of Number Part 2

(Postdated for accuracy)

Do units have being? This is not a question I would have considered asking. I’m trying to be sympathetic to the concerns of the various groups described by Mr. Klein, but it’s hard going. Why would I want to know whether numbers have being as something other than an abstraction produced by human necessity and, later, ingenuity? Are units noetic objects? I’m hard pressed to say, not only whether that is what numbers are, but even what that phrase means. Do ideas have substance? If so, what manner of substance would it be? Why would someone be asking? I don’t even know why something like x2+y might be a line. By convention, apparently. Because it’s interesting and possible and useful. AB might be a line because someone took a line and named it that. A noetic line, apparently. A particular noetic line. An imaginary line, one might say, but something more particular and substantive than that. Do we really think we can answer these questions by thought? Aristotle, a proponent of the “abstraction” solution, apparently thought he could find truth by a careful examination of the various things that people say about stuff, and what they mean by them. Plato suggested there to be an actual realm of intellect just as real as — more real than —  that of sense. I, meanwhile, have not the foggiest idea what they were talking about.


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