There is a highest number!

Common belief: There is no highest number because with any number you can just add 1.

But, I don’t think there is any such thing as 1 or 10 or 89234. These are abstractions and abstractions are as real as unicorns – meaning they are not real.

Numbers, instead, are only real in their association with that which is tangible. So, if you have 3 apples, 3 exists as a description of the apples. If there are 10 apples, then 10 exists. But if there are only 10 apples, there is no such thing as 11. 11’s existence is entirely contingent on reality.

In this sense, if you counted every divisible thing in the universe, from the smallest particle to the largest star, the number you arrived at is the largest number. That number’s existence is entirely contingent on the number of uniquely countable objects in existence. Adding 1 to that number computes a theoretical number that does not exist.

Some might disagree, they’ll say the proof that numbers are real is that we can work with them to produce models and theories with real utility. I would say the same thing can be done with unicorns. That doesn’t make unicorns real.

I’ll note that my brother disagrees with me on this, he says numbers exist the same way, say, “Economic theory” exists. It doesn’t have physical existence, it has a different kind of existence. I dunno, that’s a tricky one.

Your thoughts?