Maarten Maartensz:    Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek                      

 Q - Quantity


Quantity: Number, or generalization thereof.

If you check 'number' in this Dictionary, you'll find 'quantity' - which is on purpose, to indicate that we have here a very fundamental concept. And it would seem as if human beings all start from an intuitive assumption of the natural or counting numbers, and have to surrect their understanding of number and quantity on its foundations (moving to fractions, rational numbers, roots, real numbers etc.)

There are various generalizations of the natural numbers that go beyond what non-mathematical people would consider numbers naturally. Two examples of somewhat special numbers are complex numbers or quaternions; an example of something that is in quite a few respects like a number - can be summed, multiplied, divided - but is more complicated are matrices.

Similarly, the entities that make up the stock of higher mathematics, such as integrals and differentials, are quantities that carry more assumptions and subtleties with them than mere natural numbers can account for.

And there are special problems relating to quantities of various kinds when these enter into or are used for measurements, and there are related problems of scales of measurement, that are often defined by reference to the sort of mathematical operations that can be used with the quantities considered, and that may be quite subtle.


See also: Measurement, Number


Ellis, Hirsch Ed., Newman Ed., Thurston

 Original: Nov 12, 2007                                                Last edited: 12 December 2011.   Top