Tales of Numbers: A new series of 12 books, edited by Umberto Bottazzini This new book series has an informative slant and is aimed at educated but non-specialist readers. “Numbers” are not just for counting; in fact, they have played an exceptionally significant role in the history of Western thought. Each book focuses on a specific number and each number provides an opportunity to explore cultural topics and issues with an original perspective. Every contribution to the series offers stories and suggestions drawn from a wide variety of contexts, such as philosophy, theology, literature and music.
This is the presentation of the first title in the series:
Is it a question of love? “My dove, my perfect one, is the only one”: so says the Song of Songs. No, replies Plato: understanding “one” requires a profound and meticulous science. If “one” exists, the road leading to its home must also be unique, unmistakable, inimitable. Let's start from the labyrinth, from the multiple, from the confusion of faces and destinies, and let's try to follow the hidden path that leads to the Sole One. Let us courageously enter this forest of encounters and bewilderments: perhaps we will emerge wiser, certainly more mature and mindful, as the journey towards “one” is also an arduous descent into ourselves. Who are our traveling companions? Ancient Israel, first and foremost; the advice of some old philosophers; the assistance of the usual mystics; a modicum of lyric love poetry, dreams, memories and tales. This is the right toolkit to go in search of the “one” – the most elusive and mysterious of numbers.
Giulio Busi, an expert in Jewish mysticism and Renaissance history, teaches Jewish Studies at the Freie Universität in Berlin.