The ontology of number

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What is a number? Answering this will answer questions about its philosophical foundations - rational numbers, the complex numbers, imaginary numbers. If we are to write or talk about something, it is helpful to know whether it exists, how it exists, and why it exists, just from a common-sense point of view [Quine, 1948, p. 6]. Generally, there does not seem to be any disagreement among mathematicians, scientists, and logicians about numbers existing in some way, but currently, in the mainstream arena only definitions, descriptions of properties, and effects are presented as evidence. Enough historical description of numbers in history provides an empirical basis of number, although a case can be made that numbers do not exist by themselves empirically. Correspondingly, numbers exist as abstractions. All the while, though, these "descriptions" beg the question of what numbers are ontologically. Advocates for numbers being the ultimate reality have the problem of wrestling with the nature of reality. I start on the road to discovering the ontology of number by looking at where people have talked about numbers as already existing: history. Of course, we need to know not only what ontology is but the problems of identifying one, leading to the selection between metaphysics and provisional approaches. While we seem to be dimensionally limited, at least we can identify a more suitable bootstrapping ontology than mere definitions, leading us to the unity of opposites. The rest of the paper details how this is done and modifies Peano's Postulates.
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Archival date: 2020-02-21
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