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Thread: Positive and Negative

  1. #76
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jegreenwood View Post
    See that's the thing I don't buy. Counting is as much a human concept as negative numbers, irrational numbers etc. It's big distinction is that it's almost certainly the oldest part of the number system. But as I mentioned in an earlier post, there are tribes - I've read about two - who have no concept of "four-ness." Their counting system is 1,2,3, many. As such what we see as - say - 4 and 40, they see as identical.
    Can you explain in detail the thinking of these tribes? There must be a reason for it. I doubt that it makes any difference, and it certainly doesn't disprove anything I've been saying.

    As humans, we have five digits on each hand; surely that must count for something!
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  2. #77
    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Okay, so you've completely removed number from anything real, and now you want me to "prove" it for you? Hurrah for abstraction.
    I think numbers are an abstraction. But they are an abstraction developed by humans to organize the real world, whether that be about counting your flock of sheep or determining sound wave interaction.

    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Can you explain in detail the thinking of these tribes? There must be a reason for it. I doubt that it makes any difference, and it certainly doesn't disprove anything I've been saying.

    As humans, we have five digits on each hand; surely that must count for something!
    As I said, I wasn't there, but the explanation I got from my Australian tour guide (several in fact) regarding the Anangu aborigines was that they had no concept of ownership, so no need for numbers. This is the pitch to the tourists, so I take it with a grain of salt. However, the article I linked (reporting MIT research) speaks of a tribe that has no word for '1' or '2'.

    Slight correction after a bit of reading in "The Universal History of Numbers" by Georges Ifrah (from the "Look Inside" pages on Amazon). According to Ifrah, the Anangu had a words for '1' and '2'. '3' was '1' + '2' and 4 was '2' + '2'. After that - many. Ifrah identifies several other tribes in Africa and South America using similar systems.
    Last edited by jegreenwood; Jul-06-2019 at 17:41.

  3. #78
    Senior Member apricissimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    You want definitions? You're actually arguing with such an obvious reality? I think you're over-thinking this.
    If it's so obvious, it should be easy. Try it!

  4. #79
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by apricissimus View Post
    If it's so obvious, it should be easy. Try it!
    That's right, try it! Try it! Try it! Dance! Dance! Dance! bang bang bang! That's right, dance, injun!
    "The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?"
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    "In Spring! In the creation of art it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg

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    Senior Member bigshot's Avatar
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    Good time to take a nap.
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  6. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    No, they're not; numbers can embody qualities of the real world. For example, the number 3 can describe the "three-ness" of 3 objects.
    Numbers can also identify things: sheep number 1, sheep number 2, etc.

    You can't have a "zero" sheep, though, or "negative 5" sheep. Those kinds of numbers are abstractions.
    The fact that there is something in common between three apples and three days is an abstraction.

    Counting numbers are an abstraction. Integers are a further abstraction (including negative numbers). Real numbers, rational numbers, irrational numbers, complex numbers are further abstractions.

    I still remember in elementary school when the teacher told us she could subtract 5 from 3. It seemed impossible. Then she showed us how to do it on the number line. We were already taught that adding was jumping right on the number line and subtracting was jumping left. If you jump left past zero there is -1, -2, -3. Brilliant!

    I am baffled you don't see the internal inconsistencies of your arguments. You started by claiming that speakers and amplifiers shouldn't use negative values because pressure is always positive. That seems to implicitly posit the existence of negative values, but they are verboten. Now you seem to be saying that negative numbers are somehow illegitimate, and shouldn't be used in engineering. You claimed negative values in electronic calculations are "just a model" and don't really exist.

    Apparently you only recognize the legitimacy of counting numbers. Is it not clear to you that if you restrict mathematics to counting numbers you will arrest the development of science and engineering at a forth grade level? There would be no Newtonian mechanics, electricity and magnetism, amplifiers, speakers, or computers, for that matter?
    Last edited by Baron Scarpia; Jul-08-2019 at 17:31.

  7. #82
    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    The fact that there is something in common between three apples and three days is an abstraction.

    Counting numbers are an abstraction. Integers are a further abstraction (including negative numbers). Real numbers, rational numbers, irrational numbers, complex numbers are further abstractions.

    I still remember in elementary school when the teacher told us she could subtract 5 from 3. It seemed impossible. Then she showed us how to do it on the number line. We were already taught that adding was jumping right on the number line and subtracting was jumping left. If you jump left past zero there is -1, -2, -3. Brilliant!

    I am baffled you don't see the internal inconsistencies of your arguments. You started by claiming that speakers and amplifiers shouldn't use negative values because pressure is always positive. That seems to implicitly posit the existence of negative values, but they are verboten. Now you seem to be saying that negative numbers are somehow illegitimate, and shouldn't be used in engineering. You claimed negative values in electronic calculations are "just a model" and don't really exist.

    Apparently you only recognize the legitimacy of counting numbers. Is it not clear to you that if you restrict mathematics to counting numbers you will arrest the development of science and engineering at a forth grade level? There would be no Newtonian mechanics, electricity and magnetism, amplifiers, speakers, or computers, for that matter?
    Ah, but does fourth grade have the quality of "fourth-ness"?

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  9. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by jegreenwood View Post
    Ah, but does fourth grade have the quality of "fourth-ness"?
    Kindergarden is 0th grade, pre-school is -1 grade.

    There is a sub-field of molecular biology where the math challenged biologists designated the transcription start site as +1 and the site one base before as -1. They left out zero! So a special kind of brain-damaged arithmetic has to be used to calculate the distance between sites spanning the start site.

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  11. #84
    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    Kindergarden is 0th grade, pre-school is -1 grade.

    There is a sub-field of molecular biology where the math challenged biologists designated the transcription start site as +1 and the site one base before as -1. They left out zero! So a special kind of brain-damaged arithmetic has to be used to calculate the distance between sites spanning the start site.
    Slightly (not really slightly) off-topic, I've been reading "The Gold Bug Variations" by Richard Powers. Have you read it? Somehow, molecular biology (DNA), the Goldberg Variations, Poe's short story and a bunch of other things get put through the author's Waring Blender.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gold_Bug_Variations
    Last edited by jegreenwood; Jul-08-2019 at 19:48.

  12. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by jegreenwood View Post
    Slightly (not really slightly) off-topic, I've been reading "The Gold Bug Variations" by Richard Powers. Have you read it? Somehow, molecular biology (DNA), the Goldberg Variations, Poe's short story and a bunch of other things get put through the author's Waring Blender.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gold_Bug_Variations
    Sounds interesting. Time-jump fiction has become a genre. One example I liked was by Barry Unsworth. He is best known for his novel Sacred Hunger, but I like an earlier work, "Stone Virgin" which tells two parallel stories, of a sculptor who carved a statue of the Virgin Mary, and of a restorer who is working on the same sculpture centuries later. I also like his novel, "Morality Play."

  13. #86
    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    I read "Sacred Hunger" some years back, but that's all I've read by Unsworth. One time jump novel I enjoyed immensely was "Possession" by A.S. Byatt, which has a similar structure to "Gold Bug" - a contemporary couple researching an older (Victorian) couple. Like "Sacred Hunder," it won the [Man] Booker prize. And Richard Powers just won a Pulitzer for his most recent novel.

    OK - I just sat down with the book and on the next page, one character asks another, "So, did Furtwangler collaborate?" Do you think Powers visits this forum?
    Last edited by jegreenwood; Jul-08-2019 at 20:21.

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  15. #87
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    I think Powers could have visited any number of classical music discussions boards I've frequented.

    I've read Possession and you've reminded me how much I enjoyed it. I read a few other Byatt novels after that and didn't find then nearly as interesting.

    We're way off topic now. We're in danger of being banned from the site! How to turn this back to the illegitimacy of negative numbers?

  16. #88
    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    I suppose we could ask if Furtwangler believed in Bruckner's Symphony No. 0.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jegreenwood View Post
    I suppose we could ask if Furtwangler believed in Bruckner's Symphony No. 0.
    And Bruckner's earlier symphony in f-minor is typically referred to as Symphony 00. Apparently it was lost on the people in charge of these things that 00 = 0, and that the symphony before 0 is Symphony No -1.

    I think I will start a movement that WoO should simply be replaced by negative opus numbers.

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