16. But here we may be questioned about these numbers which we describe as the primal and authentic:
"Where do you place these numbers, in what genus among Beings? To everyone they seem to come under Quantity and you have certainly brought Quantity in, where you say that discrete Quantity equally with the continuous holds place among Beings; but you go on to say that there are the numbers belonging to the Firsts and then talk of other numbers quite distinct, those of reckoning; tell us how you arrange all this, for there is difficulty here. And then, the unity in sense-things- is that a quantity or is quantity here just so many units brought together, the unity being the starting-point of quantity but not quantity itself? And, if the starting-point, is it a kindred thing or of another genus? All this you owe it to us to make clear."
Be it so; we begin by pointing out a distinction:
You take one thing with another- for we must first deal with objects of sense- a dog and a man, or two men; or you take a group and affirm ten, a decad of men: in this case the number affirmed is not a Reality, even as Reality goes in the sphere of sense, but is purely Quantity: similarly when you resolve into units, breaking up the decad, those units are your principle of Quantity since the single individual is not a unity absolute.
But the case is different when you consider one man in himself and affirm a certain number, duality, for example, in that he is at once living and reasoning.
By this analysis and totalling, you get quantity; but there are two objects under consideration and each of these is one; each of the unities contributes to the complete being and the oneness is inherent in each; this is another kind of number; number essential; even the duality so formed is no posterior; it does not signify a quantity apart from the thing but the quantity in the essence which holds the thing together. The number here is no mere result of your detailing; the things exist of themselves and are not brought together by your reckoning, but what has it to do with essential reality that you count one man in with another? There is here no resultant unity such as that of a choir- the decad is real only to you who count the ten; in the ten of your reckoning there cannot be a decad without a unitary basis; it is you that make the ten by your counting, by fixing that tenness down to quantity; in choir and army there is something more than that, something not of your placing.
But how do you come to have a number to place?
The Number inherent apart from any enumeration has its own manner of being, but the other, that resulting upon the appearance of an external to be appraised by the Number within yourself, is either an Act of these inherent numbers or an Act in accordance with them; in counting we produce number and so bring quantity into being just as in walking we bring a certain movement into being.
But what of that "Number within us having its own manner of being"?
It is the Number of our essence. "Our essence" we read "partakes of Number and harmony and, also, is Number and harmony." "Neither body nor magnitude," someone says: soul, then, is Number since it is essence. The number belonging to body is an essence of the order of body; the number belonging to soul constitutes the essences of souls.
In the Intellectuals, all, if the Absolute Living-Form, there is a multiple- a triad, let us say- that Triad of the Living-Form is of the nature of essence: and the Triad prior to any living thing, Triad in the realm of Being, is a principle of essence.
When you enumerate two things- say, animal and beauty- each of these remains one thing; the number is your production; it lay within yourself; it is you that elaborate quantity, here the dyad. But when you declare virtue to be a Tetrad, you are affirming a Tetrad which does actually exist; the parts, so to speak, make one thing; you are taking as the object of your act a Unity- Tetrad to which you accommodate the Tetrad within yourself.