# One and Many

“Many” has two meanings:

1. That which is divided, namely something and something else such that the something is not the something else. Taken in this way, the idea of many comes before the idea of one, because many in this sense is simply defined by distinction.
2. A whole composed of ones as parts. In this sense many comes after one.

Using the second definition, we can define numbers according to what sort of parts they have. Thus for example two is something many in the second way, such that it does not have any part which is itself many. Similarly, three is something many such that it has a part which is two, but does not have any part which has a part which is two. One can define other numbers in a similar way. Of course such definitions will quickly become nearly unintelligible as one increases the value of the number. This is not so much a problem with this kind of definition, as a sign of the fact that numbers are not very intelligible to us in themselves, and that we grasp them in practice mainly by the use of the imagination.

## 5 thoughts on “One and Many”

1. […] I discussed Aristotle’s senses of before and after. Using yesterday’s discussion of one and many, we can now find a more exact definition of the same […]

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2. […] we discussed the order of the concepts distinction, unity, whole and part, many, first and second, origin, and cause. Some things that follow from these […]

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3. […] blog, I took care to form fairly precise definitions of terms such as distinction, whole and part, one and many, and so on. No one has given an equally clear definition of mind, and it is not clear that it is […]

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4. […] can look at this in terms of our explanation of defining numbers. This explanation works only for finite numbers, and an infinite number could not be defined in […]

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5. […] confusing thing about the meanings of one and many  is that the meaning of each seems to depend on the other. The reality behind this is that there is […]

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