Ancient symbols in modern thinking

by Tibor Hartel

While drinking a coffee (an exceptionally good one, in an exceptional morning) and reading a paper I was thinking about symbols (I am now in a period of ‘thinking’). 

More exactly, some symbols which had clear meaning for ancient societies, but are still widely present in … modern science! 

And these are the numbers. 

It is known that numbers in ancient societies represented much more than quantity (of money, of cars, of fish, of papers, books, knowledge or whatever – as it is for e.g. us, today). For example, the number ’10’ represented the number of cyclic change (i.e. its completion), integrity, or the number of the world (after which there are basically no numbers. God sent 10 commandments to people through Moses etc.

And back to modern science.

Actually the magic number of ’10’ is present in many articles from top journals like Biological Conservation, Landscape Ecology, Conservation Letters or others. In each cases, it appears under the very same frame: ’10 suggestions’, ’10 guiding principles’, ’10 key reccomendations’. And in each case, what the authors basically want is to present a guideline for society (policy) in order to make a better world.

Beside the fact that the number of papers with reccomendations / guidelines (e.g. ‘modern commandments’) is increasing (and the context which give birth to these is also interesting: the almost total chaos..not new…hm?), very often their number ’10’.

Do conservation biologists also act according to some ancient formulas? 🙂

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