Understanding numbers, 8+
Oxymoron is a Greek mathematician of antiquity who impresses his contemporaries with his ability to handle addition and subtraction. But when he proposes to introduce the notion of zero, nobody follows him.
The problems raised by this story relate to the “construction” of numbers, that is to say, the development of numerical invariants, independent of any material object and of any connection with action. From an early age, children are able to count objects, but we cannot speak of a notion of number as long as the count depends on the arrangement of objects or on the actions performed on these objects. As Piaget said, “It is through the formation of an invariant beyond the perceptual illusions that are put in place the conditions of possibility of the number in the mathematical sense.” It is most likely that before the creation of such an invariant, zero and nothing will be confused, and such confusion is not only the privilege of children, but it also affected men in antiquity, and beyond.