Levinas only counts to three

No kidding. He counts: “one, two, three” and then stops, because “three” is “many.”

But there’s precedent, as I read recently in the Globe. In the opening of George Gamow’s 1947 book on relativity, “One, Two, Three… Infinity,” two Hungarian aristocrats sit arguing over who can find the largest number. 15 minutes pass and one says “three.” After a great deal of reflection the second says, “you win.”


5 thoughts on “Levinas only counts to three

  1. I think the rabbits counted 1,2,3, hrer. Not sure of the spelling, but it was supposed to be rabbit for “many.” Probably somewhat accurate. Not “hrer” I mean, but that rabbits could only count to four. Adams did a lot of research for that book. Crows, famously, can count to eight, which is pretty frickin’ amazing if you ask me. On this indication, crows have the intelligence of a two or three year old human child, and that’s a lot of intelligence.

  2. Evidently rabbits are smarter than George Gamow, who equates infinity with our “greater than three.” In my opinion “many” is far more accurate than “infinity” for what comes after three, or have I not given the matter enough thought?

  3. Terry Pratchett, in one of his Discworld novels, says everyone thinks trolls are stupid because they seem to be able to count only to three: “One, two, three, many.” Actually, he says, people are not paying attention. Trolls can count perfectly well, as anybody would know if they took the time to get a troll to count: “One, two, three, many, many-one, many-two, many-three, many-many, many-many-one, many-many-two, many-many-three, LOTS…”

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