## Wednesday, February 02, 2005

### postal scrotum!

Andrew R. writes in:

Hi Kevin,

Just so I can be a smart ass....

Q: "What is 2 without its next-door neighbors, 1 and 3?"
A: It is still "2". A 'thing' without neighbors (or context) is still that 'thing'. A 'tree' is a tree, regardless of the definition (or no-definition of): grass, soil, sky, water or things around/related-to-it.

Close: "The same then applies to all numbers on the number line, and by extension to all apodictic truths."
Closer: "The same then applies to all ABSTRACTIONS on the number line."
Since numbers (or other things) CAN be identified without needing exhaustive context, then limitations begin only after you perform functions on those base things.

It's off the top of my head, it's late (read: beer involved), so please read a big "I think that maybe..." into it.

_Andy

P.S. - You had typos in your response to my Star Trek quiz? I didn't notice. Frankly, I was too amazed by the amount of your knowledge.

Many thanks, but I don't think my knowledge is all that impressive. I'm sure any shmo can pluck a few dozen random quotes out of the Trek movies and challenge people to read his mind.

I want to concentrate on this paragraph:

Q: "What is 2 without its next-door neighbors, 1 and 3?"
A: It is still "2". A 'thing' without neighbors (or context) is still that 'thing'. A 'tree' is a tree, regardless of the definition (or no-definition of): grass, soil, sky, water or things around/related-to-it.

I probably should have been clearer. What I was aiming for wasn't simply isolating the number 2 (or real-world instantiations of 2-ness) as if it were a label on a tape measure. I was aiming for something like this:

Imagine a universe without 2. The quantity. Is it possible to imagine? Can I have 3 trees standing together without also having 2 trees? 2 trees would be a subset of 3 trees, after all. If a cat has 4 paws, doesn't it necessarily have at least 2 paws? There's no escaping 2. Isolating one tree from its neighbors still doesn't give you "one" tree without, by implication, the notion of "one as opposed to two, three, etc." It quickly becomes obvious that you can't talk about any given number without immediately implying all numbers.

So: even in the world of the apodictic, everything intimately depends on everything else. That's one way to view pratitya-samutpada.

_