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The perception of quantity ain't number: Missing the primacy of symbolic reference

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 December 2021

Rafael E. Núñez
Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA92093-0515, USA.
Francesco d'Errico
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université de Bordeaux, UMR 5199 De la Préhistoire à l'Actuel: Culture, Environnement et Anthropologie (PACEA), Bâtiment B2, Allée Geoffroy Saint Hilaire, CS 50023, 33615Pessac, France.
Russell D. Gray
Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, 04103Leipzig, Germany.
Andrea Bender
Department of Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen, N-5020Bergen, Norway.


Clarke and Beck's defense of the theoretical construct “approximate number system” (ANS) is flawed in serious ways – from biological misconceptions to mathematical naïveté. The authors misunderstand behavioral/psychological technical concepts, such as numerosity and quantical cognition, which they disdain as “exotic.” Additionally, their characterization of rational numbers is blind to the essential role of symbolic reference in the emergence of number.

Open Peer Commentary
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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