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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?


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  • Sep 22 2013: 3 is not an object and has no presence, so I suppose it doesn't exist in the traditional sense. Instead it is a construct of the mind, designed to help us make sense of the world around us.
    Its more akin to an ideology or an idea. It only truly exists as a concept in our minds.

    Still utterly helpful though. Philosophizing or otherwise, mathematical concepts have a myriad of practical applications.
    • Sep 23 2013: I agree with both of your points. "3" seems to be a purely mental concept. Yet applied mathematics is extremely powerful. This raises the question, how can that be? If "3" is not inherent to objective reality (whatever THAT might be), how is it that removing one car (3-1) always results in two cars being present in the driveway?
      • Sep 23 2013: Just because a concept doesn't have a physical presence doesn't mean it can't be used to approximate real world events with great precision.

        The mathematics used in physics is essentially a theoretical model that behaves like the real world, because its specifically tailored after measurements to do just that. Trial and error is a very big part of the process.

        But look at me, philosophizing over nonsense. The important thing is, that from a purely practical standpoint, it works.

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