Number steps through operations on itself endlessly into its own fold, but what is the first number, the element that references the rest of the scale? For the Ancient Greeks it was the number “1” as the token of the Divine wholeness of one: for the Indians it was the “0” that was the immeasurable emptiness that qualified the structure of arithmetic. Such was the foundational nature of these claims that when both Greek and Indian systems of learning made it to the West, mathematics could be used only by distancing itself from the double claim of “divinity” and “emptiness” for the soul of arithmetic.
Bohr and Heisenberg in 1926 came up with a new answer to this question in relation to matter. Measurement, they said, makes finite the quantum potential by coming from the dance of wholeness and reason with a single answer, an arbitrary quantity that then becomes the seed of reason we can hold that defines all other number. It is the arbitrariness of human intervention that gives the first number, without any further philosophical significance than the chance of its arbitrary selection.
This jump of reason has allowed us to completely forget the existential question in the individual chance of our participation in the abstract order that technology draws upon. The randomness of the intention upon which we engage to fix the first number undoes the commitment to “God” or “nothing” that for the Ancients opened the journey into the experience of wholeness. This conjuring away of existential depth happens as the physics of matter (of concrete, plastic and high rise flats) justifies itself as a belief system in the grounding of number through our choice.
Amazingly then we find that number as the belief system of the description of events includes our own deception in the matter. Our choice to make this whimsical participation into the rule of number amounts to a systematic destruction of the intention to open to the value of wholeness in the world through “God” or “nothing.”
When I was 5 I shared the discovery that the foundation of the world was not concrete but earth. But at 7 I realised that what was required of me was to join the world of abandon that the adults occupied in relation to concrete, by making a whimsical measurement on my own being. This formulated itself one sunny morning in the school playground “maybe I am special because of my mother.” Once this totally arbitrary statement had been made, then I too was blamelessly counted in a safe numbering of existence.
In the eternal counting of the unending consequence of this arbitrary statement, my own identity in active relation to wholeness disappears from the map of calculation. It is my word that reclaims from wholeness in the idealisation of my mother, the entire justification of the world of concrete in which I am then freed to play without further responsibility. The world of concrete, matter and plastic does not reveal the deception of my choice that gives to the medium of number an unnatural existence, but instead honours me for my intellectual prowess. Here is the ultimate madness, that the unnatural world of number draws its existence only from our own collusion in the matter.
There is another path to follow. Science counts us for our choice of how we can stand up to revive the worth of wholeness before this arbitrary abandonment of its value. In accepting wholeness at core, the bubble bursts from its illusion. The suspension of our reason in a world of number gives way to the actuality of wholeness that counts on our identity.