The influence of Spinoza's concept of infinity on Cantor's set theory

Georg Cantor, the founder of set theory, cared much about a philosophical foundation for his theory of infinite numbers. To that end, he studied intensively the works of Baruch de Spinoza. In the paper, we survey the influence of Spinozean thoughts onto Cantor’s; we discuss Spinoza’s philosophy of infinity, as it is contained in his Ethics; and we attempt to draw a parallel between Spinoza’s and Cantor’s ontologies. Our conclusion is that the study of Spinoza provides deepening insights into Cantor’s philosophical theory, whilst Cantor can not be called a ‘Spinozist’ in any stricter sense of that word.Keywords: Georg Cantor; Baruch de Spinoza; Infinity in philosophy and mathematics; Transfinite numbers; Set theory; Infinity and pantheism
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2008.12.010
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