Numbers and Reality
Using the questions on the Discussion Questions tab above, have students answer yes or no to the questions on a sheet of paper. Next, have a discussion around some of the discussion questions.
If students answered no to all questions then they would probably agree with the position in metaphysics that maintains that all real things are real in the same way. This position holds that something is either ‘real’ or it does not exist; there are no gradations of reality.
However, Aristotle argued that philosophers should take the time to argue how things are real, that there are not just two categories of reality and nonreality, but it instead can be described in terms of levels, degrees, and forms.
- What does it mean for something to be real? Is it the same or different than the idea of existence?
- If something is real, must it be something we can see, hear, touch, taste, or smell?
- Does a certain property make a thing more real than a thing that lacks that property? For example, if numbers are eternal, are numbers more real than humans because humans have limited life spans?
- Is a thing more real if it has more properties?
- Does it make a difference if we say that numbers are real or not? What might be the consequences either way?
- Is a snowflake more real than an atom?
- Is an atom more real than a subatomic particle?
- Is a subatomic particle more real than a centaur?
- Is a centaur more real than a square circle?