Ivan Havel
Seeing Numbers

Ivan Havel
Center for Theoretical Study, Prague, Czech Republic


In 1890 William James listed several “elementary mental categories” that he postulated as having a natural origin. Among them, alongside the ideas of time and space, he also listed the idea of number. A symptomatic feature of Informatics as well as Cognitive Science today is the tendency not to talk so much about ideas as about their representations, either in the computer or in the brain. Taking up somewhat different perspective I will discuss the way natural numbers, viewed as counts of real or imagined objects, may be experienced phenomenally. I put forth even some speculative ideas about mental number processing by numerical savants.

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