Re: ZERO (was: Evidence for "Big Bang Theory"

Eric Shook (Panopticon@oubliette.COM)
Thu, 11 May 95 03:26:36 CST

In article <3oo40b$> (Al Fargnoli) writes:
> Someone (who didn't know what he was talking about) claimed that
> zero is an abstract concept that doesn't actually exist (as opposed
> to the positive reals which do actually exist).
> Carl has been one of several posters who have no trouble
> understanding that zero actually exists. Then, Eric started
> posting his evidence that he understands neither mathematics
> nor the English language. :-)
> Eric, do you really believe that zero is, somehow, less "real"
> than one or two (or three or four or . . .)? Are you asserting
> that one (or two or . . .) is less "abstract" than zero? Did
> you jump into this thread without understanding the topic?
> Al Fargnoli
> Who never changed a subject line before.

Well, Al, congratulations on changing the subject line! It was a mystery
to me once, also.

However, I refuse to differ with you, and plead that I have never,
ever stated that zero is less real than any other number. Perhaps you
have confused me with someone else? I was the guy posting the initial
retort against the gentleman who was calling "nothing" an intellectual
concept, while zero was an observable concrete, if I recall the argument.
(or the opposite)

I have only stated repeatedly that _both_ are concepts, and that by nature
all concepts are intellectual, all symbols abstract, and all the world
which they represent is concrete. The concepts zero and nothing are both
equal in these respects. The gentleman who was originally posting was
calling one of them an "intellectual" concept, as if it took more
brain power to relate to that than something else supposedly more concrete
and more readily observable. An absurdity.

Since then I have been queried repeatedly by folks accusing me of the
original poster's mistake, or else interpreting what I keep repeating as
saying that one or the other is or isn't something or another. Blah-blah.
All misinterpretation, or misattributation in some misedited message which
might have left my name at the top as "ENShook writes:" when, in fact,
someone else wrote what followed. I don't know. I'm just tired of all of
these bloody mathematicians so eager to tell me that I don't know. As if
they have a fucking copywrite on the concept zero. Hell, it wasn't probably
even a mathematician that differentiated real numbers in the first place.

My original point that zero was not even in use, or "discovered" prior
to about 800 a.d. was to support the idea that it must also be an
intellectual concept, and not necessarily given a higher status because it
is observable, or not. The point thereby being that if we do not perceive
a symbol's existence, then we cannot preceive what it refers to. Perhaps
that object of reference always did exist, and perhaps it was even utilized
and observed, but not in the same capacity or by the same "innovation."

In the end, a poor example. In fact the zero we are refering to is not,
as has been pointed out by another kind poster, synonymous with "nothing,"
but rather, it is the idea of a zero used in forming places in numerical
representations that was "appropriated" in 800 A.D.. Still, my original
point is that zero is an intellectual concept, but then so is everything

Its really a very simple proposition. I am certain that ther will be
several more amthematicians to post some ridicule, but then, I have found
so many of them can't read a simple propostition, as is only evident to me
upon review of how many times they have attributed anything but my simple
point to me.

It has become simply retiring.

I could accede not knowing diddly about mathematics, but the
final insult that I understand nothing about english was a bit much, don't
you think?

-- Eric Nelson --
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee: