Ideas from 'Set Theory and the Continuum Hypothesis' by Paul J. Cohen [1966], by Theme Structure

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6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 10. Constructivism / a. Constructivism
We could accept the integers as primitive, then use sets to construct the rest
                        Full Idea: A very reasonable position would be to accept the integers as primitive entities and then use sets to form higher entities.
                        From: Paul J. Cohen (Set Theory and the Continuum Hypothesis [1966], 5.4), quoted by Oliver,A/Smiley,T - What are Sets and What are they For?
                        A reaction: I find this very appealing, and the authority of this major mathematician adds support. I would say, though, that the integers are not 'primitive', but pick out (in abstraction) consistent features of the natural world.