Members-only podcast episode

Joel Kalvesmaki Expands Arithmetically

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This extended interview covers a broad field of esoteric number-theory in history. We range far and wide through the number-strewn fields of post-Platonic ‘Pythagorean’ mathematical symbolism, taking in many of the sights along the way.

Specific topics of discussion include:

  • The contextualisation of psephic metaphysics in Gnosticism and early Christian writers as part of the early Greek quest for world-systems,
  • More on the alpha-numeric mysteries of the Marcosian Gnostics,
  • Some reflections on the polemics about reading the world as an alphabetic-mathematical text inside and outside the early church,
  • The fourth-century debate between the followers of Iamblichus and Theodor of Asine about what kinds of realist positions concerning words and numbers (and even written letter-forms!) were permissible,
  • The development of the Greek term logos into a metaphysically-real principle and the possibilites this opened up for speculation in early Christianity,
  • The fact that the One (and sometimes the Two) are not considered ‘numbers’ in our Greek sources,
  • And the Problem of multiplicity in a monist universe (or of unity in a fundamentally-multiple universe), and how the later mathematical concept of the zero is relevant to this problem, which of course leads to some discussion of early apophatic Christian theology.

Works Discussed in this Episode:

  • Fritz, K. v. (1945). ‘The Discovery of Incommensurability by Hippasus of Metapontum’, The Annals of Mathematics, Second Series 46 : 242-64.
  • Iamblichus. Dillon, J. M. & Hershbell, J. P. (Ed.), 1991. On the Pythagorean Way of Life. Scholars’ Press, Atlanta, GA.