# Thread: 12, 3, or subtraction are constituents of the number 9

1. ## 12, 3, or subtraction are constituents of the number 9

Even if it is correct to say that we express and represent our thoughts in language, it may be a big mistake to suppose that there are structural similarities between what is doing the representing and what is represented. Robert Stalnaker, in his book Inquiry, suggests an analogy with the representation of numbers: The number 9 can be represented as ‘12-3’ but it does not follow that 12, 3, or subtraction are constituents of the number 9. We could compare a thought and its verbal expression with toothpaste and its ‘expression’ from a tube. That the result of expressing toothpaste is a long, thin, cylinder does not entail that toothpaste itself is long, thin, or cylindrical. Similarly, a thought might get expressed out loud in a statement with a particular linguistic structure. It does not follow that ________________________________. Suppose, for example, that I look at a fruit bowl, and think that there is an apple and an orange in that bowl. The objects in front of my eyes include some pieces of fruit and a bowl, but no object corresponding to the word ‘and’ exists either in the world or in my visual image.
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Does the author try to mean that we don't think of "12", "minus", "3" respectively in our thoughts when trying to make "9"?
I think we do think of them. I feel this writing is kind of confusing.

2. ## Re: 12, 3, or subtraction are constituents of the number 9

The text should say 12-3, not "12.3".

3. ## Re: 12, 3, or subtraction are constituents of the number 9

It means that the concepts of the number 12, the number 3, and the operation of subtraction are not inherent in the concept of the number 9.

In other words, even though 12 - 3 = 9, the number 9 should not be thought of as 12 - 3.

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