are two basic versions of the figure, one ‘open' and the other closed
into a triangle. The former design is echoed in the symbol for the
planet Jupiter. It is the latter (instantiated here) that figurally
relates four to the sign for delta (fourth letter of the Greek alphabet),
and accounts for the fact that in certain hacker numerolects it is
substituted for the (upper-case) letter ‘A.'
figure ‘4' designates the number four, the second even number, and
first non-prime (or complex) natural number, with prime factors of
2 x 2. (The fourth prime = 7).
triangular summation - or digital cumulation - of four equals ten
(numerologically identified with a superior power of unity, classically
conceived as the pythagorean Tetrakys). The pre-eminences of four
- as ‘first' non-prime and ‘first' square - are formally or germinally
anticipated by unity.
digitally cumulates to ten (see above).
Keypad direction: West.
to the internal redundancy of its dual symmetry (2 x 2 = 2 + 2 = 4),
four is commonly conceived as the model outcome of calculation - as
indicated by the phrase ‘putting two and two together.'
dominant associations of the number four are balance and stability,
exemplified by the ‘four-square' - or solidary - structure of four
walls, wheels, or quadrupedal support, as well as by the ‘four-four
beats' of rigidly metric dance-music. It is this sense of quadrature
that predominates in the four elements (earth, air, water, fire),
the four cardinal directions (north, south, east, and west), and the
four DNA bases (adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine). A similar
fourfold typology is expressed by the four suits of the playing-card
pack (clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades). Four is also associated with
temporal stability - or cyclic regeneration - , as evidenced by the
four seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter), four classical ages
(those of gold, silver, bronze, and lead), and in Hindu culture, far
more intricately, by the four Yugas (those of Krita, Treta, Dvapara,
and Kali). The system of the Yugas is a fully elaborated quadro-decimal
system (highly suggestive in relation to the Tetrakys).
the Judaeo-Christian tradition the number four is invested with extraordinary
significance, from the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, through
the four gospels, to the four great ‘Zoas' and four horsemen of apocalypse.
The biblical time - of both old and new testaments - places particular
importance on the period of forty days (e.g. the duration of the flood,
and of Jesus' temptation in the desert). This privileging of quadrate
order - as the ground-plan of the temple - is also instantiated by
the masonic ‘square.'
number four is also of special importance to Buddhism, as exemplified
by the ‘four noble truths' of its basic doctrine, and by the typical
(quadrate) design of the mandala. On the flip-side the number four
is connected with excess (the fourth dimension), anomaly (the four-leafed
clover), and vulgarity (four-letter words).