TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Is the number "3" real?

There are three cars in my driveway right now. I can see and touch the cars, but I can't see or touch the number "3". Are numbers inherent to reality, or merely mental constructs?

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Sep 22 2013: Mental constructs, It is in your mind that 3 exists otherwise in reality it doesn't. I may sound insane but for you number 3 can hold a different meaning while a person from primitive society may recall number 3 as something else. Though, it is all in your mind.
    • Sep 23 2013: Hi, Talha. I tend to agree with you. However, this raises other questions. For example, why does applied mathematics work? 3-1=2, to take a trivial example. If someone moves one of the cars, then inevitably, there are two cars left in my driveway. Am I somehow creating the entire phenomenon? Is the mathematics behind physics creative or explanatory?

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.