FOM: Disembodied souls and arithmetics

Anatoly Vorobey mellon at
Sun Oct 11 20:45:18 EDT 1998

You, Neil Tennant, were spotted writing this on Sun, Oct 11, 1998 at 12:37:01AM -0400:

> Just ask yourself what
> theory of arithmetic would be excogitable by a disembodied Cartesian
> soul in a universe with no physical objects in it at all. The answer
> is: exactly Peano-Dedekind arithmetic. 

Can you please focus on that and explain why that answer seems so
obvious to you? 

> Now could someone please
> explain how the mere presence of some physical objects could show that
> Peano-Dedekind arithmetic is somehow incorrect?

I think you are attacking a strawman here. Noone said presence
of physical objects could show the Peano-Dedekind incorrect (and
what could "incorrect" mean in this context?); only
that Peano-Dedekind arithmetic, useful as it is in itself,
may not be the appropriate generalization of our intuitive concepts
of counting physical objects.

Anatoly Vorobey,
mellon at
"Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly" - G.K.Chesterton

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