Tyrannical quantity

Free yourself from the domination of numbers

Numbers are ubiquitous in the contemporary world. If they have had such success, it is because they perfectly model multiple aspects of physical reality. Numbers are a means of dominating matter. This apparent physical universality has rubbed off on our psychology. Social relations are invaded by numbers because it is the least questionable language, the least solipsistic. By accepting the dictatorship of numbers we submit to the collective. But is it really the human collective or the material collective, which intrudes into our lives? Which is restricting humanity? Is the domination of numbers on psychology as lawful as on physics?

Aristotle represented the world with ten tools: substance, quantity, quality, relationship, place, time, position, possession, action, passion. Quantity today obliterates all others. Children are still born with all these tools, but education ends up in funnel on a training exclusive to numbers. If the child has not been introduced at a young age to the richness of the world’s modes of discovery, her brain will only look for new quantities. Especially since the media flood it with numbers. Parent in turn, she will try to introduce the next generation as soon as possible to the quantitative approach, which has become essential.

Generation 123…

This generation will no longer know passion, because by translating misfortune into numbers to be reduced, we will reduce the intensity of happiness which is its contrast. This generation will no longer know the action, because the numbers will indicate precisely which one must be undertaken, and all actions will become executions. This generation will no longer know possession, since any loss will be compensated, the best numerical balances will be found, no one will remember having owned anything.

This generation will no longer know a place of belonging, because the amount of accessible positions in the metaverse will be infinite. This generation will no longer know the lightning of the moment, because time will only be a sequence of states. The future as precisely quantified as the past will not detach itself from it, drowning the passage of the present. This generation will have relationships codified even in the intimate. Note the quantities of pleasure received and distributed, to verify that a contract with carefully numbered items has been fully respected.

Handicapped in number

Today numbers are a very unequal language. We do not all have the same facility to manipulate them. It is even a factor of exclusion. Everyone exchanges in the language of her birth, but if you do not learn that of numbers, you are reduced to the state of native of orality. You do not share the universal Esperanto of numbers. You do not have access to the essential aspects of reality.

It doesn’t matter if your brain has further developed other languages, social codes, sensitivity, neologisms, and artistic talents, you have a disability. Maybe we can correct it soon? Manipulating numbers is a function of the prefrontal cortex. It serves to codify integrative concepts in the conscious workspace. It models our thoughts. Any function can be stimulated, trained. Perhaps the poor ability to numbers is already considered more serious than a delay in walking? It becomes more important to correct.

Fallacy of numbers

There is certainly an important motivation to ‘talk numbers’: it is to recognize the errors and manipulations of this language. When the interlocutor is naïve, it is easy to make him swallow snakes, using statistical fallacies, overwhelming numbers, smoky equality and wobbly theorems. Many excellent books and sites try to reconcile us with mathematics. The downside is that, by believing oneself to have a new mastery of numbers, one becomes more sensitive to those truncated voluntarily or not. We no longer delegate to those better trained to recognize hidden mistakes.

The numbers are important but to give them too much importance is an impoverishment of the image of the world. Aristotle’s other nine tools fell into disuse. They are no longer listened to by the “quantifiers”, except when they are quantifiable. This allows us to better understand the reduction made by the numbers: it obliterates the qualitative phenomena, which is experienced. World quantified but not merged into the felt experience. Those who use this fusional mode of relationship to the world, by lack of ease with numbers, are marginalized.

Atrophy of what uses numbers

The numbers are descriptive, they are not intentional. They lead to the result, say nothing about the profit it represents. Focusing on quantitative processes freezes thinking about the qualitative goal. We then resemble our artificial intelligences, which are waiting for the approval of their creator for the evaluation of the result.

The quantitative tool governs the other nine. Math makes substance disappear in physics. Quality is replaced by a label. The equation serves as a relationship. The time is chronometered, the place GPS-ised. Each acre of the environment has its title deed. Action is measured by precaution. Passion is a number of likes.

Let’s limit favoritism

There is no greater tyrant than our favorite language, because its grip fades behind the impression of owning it. But above all, it lacks dissenting language. None of them answer everything, even if that of the numbers displays this claim. Let us be careful not to dry up the polyglotism of our thought.


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