It’s a surprisingly controversial question with a — perhaps unsettling — answer
A critic might retort, “Of course it’s just biology! Lots of animals can count!”
Well yes, they can, but for them it is not an abstraction. It seems always related to small, practical quantities:
In the late 1980s, researchers showed that chimpanzees could add up the number of chocolates in two food bowls (up to five pieces of chocolate in each bowl), compare it with the sum of two other food bowls, and correctly choose the larger of the two sums 90 percent of the time.JOSEPH CASTRO, “CAN ANIMALS COUNT?” AT LIVESCIENCE (DECEMBER 3, 2017)
The ability to distinguish more from fewer chocolates probably has a biological explanation. But chimpanzee chocolate fans are not interested in the chiliagon. We need a different account of that interest. Evolution won’t help because we don’t know when or even how language emerged.
Mathematics may well be an argument for dualism, the idea that the universe is intrinsically dual. It is both concrete and abstract, depending. Both the Chimp Chocolate Stakes and Chaitin’s Unknowable Number.News, “Is our “number sense” biology, culture — or something else?” at Mind Matters News
Takehome: Mathematics supports a dualist view of the universe. Both concrete and abstract, depending. Both the Chimp Chocolate Stakes and Chaitin’s Unknowable Number.