Infinity in science and religion. The creative role of thinking about infinity

This article discusses the history of the concepts of potential infinity and actual infinity in the context of Christian theology, mathematical thinking and metaphysical reasoning. It shows that the structure of Ancient Greek rationality could not go beyond the concept of potential infinity, which is highlighted in Aristotle's metaphysics. The limitations of the metaphysical mind of ancient Greece were overcome through Christian theology and its concept of the infinite God, as formulated in Gregory of Nyssa's theology. That is how the concept of actual infinity emerged. However, Gregory of Nyssa's understanding of human rationality went still further. He said that access to the infinity of God was to be found only in an asymptotic ascension, as expressed in apophatic theology, and this view endangered the rationality of theology. Deeply influenced by the apophatic tradition, Nicholas of Cusa avoided this danger by showing that infinity could be accessed by symbolic representation and asymptotic mathematical reasoning. Thus, he made an immense contribution in making infinity rationally accessible. This endeavor was finally realized by Georg Cantor. This rational accessibility revealed discernible structures of infinity, such as the continuum hypothesis, and the cardinal numbers. However, the probable logical inconsistency of Georg Cantor's all-encompassing Absolute Infinity points to an intuitive understanding of infinity that goes beyond its rational structures – as in apophatic theology.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1515/nzst.2005.47.4.392
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,974
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

81 ( #37,733 of 1,725,840 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

7 ( #92,969 of 1,725,840 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.