Thursday, March 09, 2006

The most universal number

Pick the most universal number:

You could say “0” because everything starts from the zero ground-state. You could say “1” because one is the fundamental unit of every other number (dividing or multiplying by one yields the same result; every integer is constituted of ones). You could say “2” because everything in the world is posited on dynamic opposition, the yin-yang of existence, without which nothing is.

But I think the most universal number is 3. Here is my reasoning.

Three is the base of all numbers (i.e. all multiples of three) that embody the principle of self-replication. Therefore it replicates itself into a universe and if it didn’t there would be no universe. So it’s the universal number.

Zero is not self-replicating. It ain’t even there. One does not replicate itself. One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so. Two does not replicate. Now there you might argue. But just because A and B get together and interact and cause C to emerge, whether C be an idea, an emotion, a new widget, or a human being, twoness is a state of division. It represents a transitional state. Three, which incorporates the fruit and materialization of the interaction, represents a new wholeness which rolls over easily into a new replication.

Note how the three-based rhythm creates a feeling of universal ongoingness. I am speaking of the waltz, as in 2001: A Space Odyssey, when the camera pans down the length of a huge space station while the Blue Danube plays gloriously on the soundtrack.

Noah's ark was a two-by-two affair. The ark of this universe is a three-by-three vehicle. All aboard!


Anonymous said...

So interesting.. there are religious backings to your theory as well but I prefer not to discuss them, not for validity but for space constraints.

Three is a magic number.

And you had a good thing going talking about dynamic opposition in "two". The nature of dichotomies and the dialectic states that most information exists in opposition, two, while creation itself requires three.

For example, a carpenter, his wood, his saw. Production.

Another, a programmer, his computer, his code. Production.

Another, a pilot, his plane, and the sky above. Perhaps nothing is created, but I insist that the relationship exists.

Anonymous said...

I could define this relationship [sorry for the double post, I had an afterthought] like this:

A medium [sky, wood, code]

A mechanism [saw, computer, plane]

A human.

This is only the relationship of threes in production, and bears much less relevance to existence on the whole than your insight. I find it interesting, nonetheless.

qubik said...

A creative flow whereby something is produced (or not) is primarily about itself in the undying, self-regenerating phoenix fire of its pure process.

Dave said...

I would argue that the primary (most universal) is the 1. Being(1... "is", "exists", "true") is primary. While 3 is interesting from the perspective of creation (as the previous commenter noted), it is not primary. From the being, not-being is derived. From 1 arises 0 (yes, I have the Tao backwards). Together these form the dyad(0,1) which is "two", and so the stable triad is formed (the three). From this the universe is born.

All arises as perception of self and not self. difference causes division, causes reality. Pure unity does not exist except of the higher order where is and not-is are combined into the greater unity (the duality), and thus, this duality itself constitutes the "third thing" (tertium quid).

qubik said...

One is the primary number almost by definition, but I don't think primary equates to universal. The word "universal" encompasses the concepts of unity and diversity. The wholeness of the universe is not only in its oneness but in its multiplicity. However, your comment does argue for the primacy of Being as a causative principle for the manifest world as well as for the principle of nonbeing. As far as whether zero or one came first, that is a goose-or-gooseegg proposition, and I'm not sure that nonbeing equates to not-self, but I agree that the three legs of the fundamental triad are the foundation of the universe, and that these three legs have to do with the self, the not-self, and their relationship.

Anonymous said...

four is the universal number. as an example "twenty-three< eleven< six< three< five< four" do this with any number and it will add up to four.