original Paper


, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 433-456

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Indexed Natural Numbers in Mind: A Formal Model of the Basic Mature Number Competence

  • Wojciech KrysztofiakAffiliated withInstitute of Philosophy, University of Szczecin Email author 


The paper undertakes three interdisciplinary tasks. The first one consists in constructing a formal model of the basic arithmetic competence, that is, the competence sufficient for solving simple arithmetic story-tasks which do not require any mathematical mastery knowledge about laws, definitions and theorems. The second task is to present a generalized arithmetic theory, called the arithmetic of indexed numbers (INA). All models of the development of counting abilities presuppose the common assumption that our simple, folk arithmetic encoded linguistically in the mind is based on the linear number representation. This classical conception is rejected and a competitive hypothesis is formulated according to which the basic mature representational system of cognitive arithmetic is a structure composed of many numerical axes which possess a common constituent, namely, the numeral zero. Arithmetic of indexed numbers is just a formal tool for modelling the basic mature arithmetic competence. The third task is to develop a standpoint called temporal pluralism, which is motivated by neo-Kantian philosophy of arithmetic.


Cognitive arithmetic Number line Indexed natural numbers Number-axes