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Some qualitative mathematics in China

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In this article, inspired by Lévi-Strauss’s comments on ‘qualitative mathematics’, I outline some features of Chinese cultural practices related to number and quantification. More specifically, I note that Chinese numerological practices are embedded in a more generally ‘structuralist’ and mathematical way of conceiving experience; that taken together they comprise a loose, and even ‘creative’ (rather than precise/rationalistic) type of life-accounting; and that number use in China is often emotionally loaded.

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