Journal of Intercultural Communication, issue 2, 1999

A. C. Hofmann

Numbers and geometrical forms as an intercultural 'language'

A. C. Hofmann


As a generalization it can be said that numbers are used in two different modes: 1) for calculating, 2) symbolically. In studying different branches of sciences one comes to the conclusion that numbers as symbols, in most cases, are connected to the same values. Interestingly the same values show up in the myths of all cultures. A similar connection can be made with geometrical forms.

In archaeology one finds a strong correlation between a preference of square or round shapes of houses and rooms on the one hand and cultures based on violence or cooperation on the other side. This leads to the idea that in a certain way, geometrical symbols can work as an inter-cultural language. Some artists might use this "language of forms and numbers" consciously, but to the majority of the people it is used more on an inconscious level.

The composition of the symbols (in two or three dimensions) follow an inter-cultural "grammar", reproduced in a way similar to language. In myths and in religious rites, basic numeric and geometric symbols show up as configurations of action or events. Often they are used on a meta level, defining a dimension of 'deeper' meaning.

It can be shown that the same values show up in modern sciences and can be found in architecture too. An excellent example to support this statement is to be found in the art and architecture in Buddhism or Taoism.

Archaeological research in England, Ireland, Malta, Sardinia, North Africa, the Middle East, or in the area of the American pre-Columbian cultures, supports the contention that this theory holds under international comparison.

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