About this topic
Summary The infinite has been an important topic in many branches of philosophy (and neighboring disciplines), including metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of physics, the philosophy of religion, and ethics.  But since at least the 19th century, when B. Bolzano, G. Cantor, R. Dedekind, and others made crucial contributions, the most central discussions about the infinite have taken place in the philosophy of mathematics and logic.  For a rich, historically grounded, but also opinionated introduction, see A.W. Moore, The Infinite (2nd edition, Routledge, 2001).  Many classic articles on the topic are contained in A.W. Moore, ed., Infinity (International Research Library of Philosophy, Dartmouth, 1993). For a more basic introduction, see P. Zellini's A Brief History of Infinity (Penguin, 2004), and on the mathematical side, I. Stewart's Infinity. A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2017) and E. Cheng's Beyond Infinity (Basic Books, 2017).  Finally, for advanced logico-mathematical aspects, see A. Kanamori, The Higher Infinite (2nd ed., Springer, 1994).
Key works Potential infinity, actual infinity, infinitesimals, paradoxes, the transfinite, set theory, cardinal numbers, ordinal numbers, space, time.
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292 found
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  1. added 2020-03-19
    Enseignement et apprentissage de l’infini : aspects philosophiques, épistemologiques et didactiques.Pascale Boulais, R. Brouzet, Viviane Durand-Guerrier, Maha Majaj, David Marino, Francoise Monnoyeur & Martine Vergnac - 2018 - In Mathématiques en scène des ponts entre les disciplines. Paris, France: pp. 246-255.
    Résumé – Nous nous intéressons à l’enseignement et l’apprentissage de l’infini en classe de mathématiques en considérant les différences et les relations entre infini potentiel et infini actuel. Nous présentons les principaux éléments de notre étude philosophique, épistémologique et didactique, ainsi que trois situations visant à conduire un travail explicite avec les élèves sur ces questions en début de lycée. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------------------- Abstract – We are interested in the teaching and learning of infinite in mathematics class, taking into account the relations (...)
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  2. added 2020-03-06
    Apophatic Finitism and Infinitism.Jan Heylen - 2019 - Logique Et Analyse 62 (247):319-337.
    This article is about the ontological dispute between finitists, who claim that only finitely many numbers exist, and infinitists, who claim that infinitely many numbers exist. Van Bendegem set out to solve the 'general problem' for finitism: how can one recast finite fragments of classical mathematics in finitist terms? To solve this problem Van Bendegem comes up with a new brand of finitism, namely so-called 'apophatic finitism'. In this article it will be argued that apophatic finitism is unable to represent (...)
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  3. added 2020-02-11
    Cantorian Set Theory and Limitation of Size. Michael Hallett.Robert Bunn - 1988 - Philosophy of Science 55 (3):461-478.
    The usual objections to infinite numbers, and classes, and series, and the notion that the infinite as such is self-contradictory, may... be dismissed as groundless. There remains, however, a very grave difficulty, connected with the contradiction [of the class of all classes not members of themselves]. This difficulty does not concern the infinite as such, but only certain very large infinite classes.
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  4. added 2020-02-11
    Georg Cantor, His Mathematics and Philosophy of the Infinite.Colin C. Graham - 1980 - Philosophy of Science 47 (1):159-160.
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  5. added 2020-01-04
    Deleuze on Leibniz : Difference, Continuity, and the Calculus.Daniel W. Smith - 2005 - In Current Continental Theory and Modern Philosophy. Northwestern University Press.
  6. added 2019-12-22
    Revisão de ' Os Limites Exteriores da Razão ' (The Outer Limits of Reason)Por Noson Yanofsky 403p (2013) (Revisão Revisada 2019).Michael Richard Starks - 2019 - In Delírios Utópicos Suicidas no Século XXI Filosofia, Natureza Humana e o Colapso da Civilization- Artigos e Comentários 2006-2019 5ª edição. Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press. pp. 188-202.
    Eu dou uma revisão detalhada de "os limites exteriores da razão" por Noson Yanofsky de uma perspectiva unificada de Wittgenstein e psicologia evolutiva. Eu indico que a dificuldade com tais questões como paradoxo na linguagem e matemática, incompletude, undecidabilidade, computabilidade, o cérebro eo universo como computadores, etc., todos surgem a partir da falta de olhar atentamente para o nosso uso da linguagem no apropriado contexto e, consequentemente, a falta de separar questões de fato científico a partir de questões de como (...)
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  7. added 2019-12-11
    Mathematical Platonism and the Nature of Infinity.Gilbert B. Côté - 2013 - Open Journal of Philosophy 3 (3):372-375.
    An analysis of the counter-intuitive properties of infinity as understood differently in mathematics, classical physics and quantum physics allows the consideration of various paradoxes under a new light (e.g. Zeno’s dichotomy, Torricelli’s trumpet, and the weirdness of quantum physics). It provides strong support for the reality of abstractness and mathematical Platonism, and a plausible reason why there is something rather than nothing in the concrete universe. The conclusions are far reaching for science and philosophy.
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  8. added 2019-09-15
    Husserl and the Infinite.Carlo Ierna - 2003 - Studia Phaenomenologica 3 (1/2):179-194.
    In this article I will analyse Husserl’s conception of the infinite as ex- pressed in the paragraph Unendliche Mengen of his Philosophie der Arithmetik (PA). I will give a short exposition on his distinction be- tween proper and symbolic presentations and then proceed to the logi- cal distinctions that Husserl makes between finite and infinite symbolic collections. Subsequently (in section 2.3), I will discuss Husserl’s addition of surrogate presentations as a sub-type of symbolic presentations in his short treatise Zur Logik (...)
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  9. added 2019-08-31
    Infinity and the Foundations of Linguistics.Ryan Nefdt - 2019 - Synthese 196 (5):1671-1711.
    The concept of linguistic infinity has had a central role to play in foundational debates within theoretical linguistics since its more formal inception in the mid-twentieth century. The conceptualist tradition, marshalled in by Chomsky and others, holds that infinity is a core explanandum and a link to the formal sciences. Realism/Platonism takes this further to argue that linguistics is in fact a formal science with an abstract ontology. In this paper, I argue that a central misconstrual of formal apparatus of (...)
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  10. added 2019-07-24
    Anaxagoras, the Thoroughgoing Infinitist: The Relation Between His Teachings on Multitude and on Heterogeneity.Miloš Arsenijević, Saša Popović & Miloš Vuletić - 2019 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 15 (1):35-70.
    In the analysis of Anaxagoras’ physics in view of the relation between his teachings on multitude and heterogeneity, two central questions emerge: 1) How can the structure of the universe considered purely mereo-topologically help us explain that at the first cosmic stage no qualitative difference is manifest in spite of the fact that the entire qualitative heterogeneity is supposedly already present there? 2) How can heterogeneity become manifest at the second stage, resulting from the noûs intervention, if according to fragment (...)
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  11. added 2019-07-04
    Infinite Barbarians.Daniel Nolan - 2019 - Ratio 32 (3):173-181.
    This paper discusses an infinite regress that looms behind a certain kind of historical explanation. The movement of one barbarian group is often explained by the movement of others, but those movements in turn call for an explanation. While their explanation can again be the movement of yet another group of barbarians, if this sort of explanation does not stop somewhere we are left with an infinite regress of barbarians. While that regress would be vicious, it cannot be accommodated by (...)
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  12. added 2019-06-06
    Naming Infinity: A True Story of Religious Mysticism and Mathematical Creativity. [REVIEW]Peter K. Benbow - 2013 - Annals of Science 70 (3):431-434.
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  13. added 2019-06-06
    Understanding the Infinite II: Coalgebra.David Corfield - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (4):571-579.
    In this paper we give an account of the rise and development of coalgebraic thinking in mathematics and computer science as an illustration of the way mathematical frameworks may be transformed. Originating in a foundational dispute as to the correct way to characterise sets, logicians and computer scientists came to see maximizing and minimizing extremal axiomatisations as a dual pair, each necessary to represent entities of interest. In particular, many important infinitely large entities can be characterised in terms of such (...)
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  14. added 2019-06-06
    Logicism and the Problem of Infinity: The Number of Numbers: Articles.Gregory Landini - 2011 - Philosophia Mathematica 19 (2):167-212.
    Simple-type theory is widely regarded as inadequate to capture the metaphysics of mathematics. The problem, however, is not that some kinds of structure cannot be studied within simple-type theory. Even structures that violate simple-types are isomorphic to structures that can be studied in simple-type theory. In disputes over the logicist foundations of mathematics, the central issue concerns the problem that simple-type theory fails to assure an infinity of natural numbers as objects. This paper argues that the problem of infinity is (...)
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  15. added 2019-06-06
    J. V. FIELD, The Invention of Infinity: Mathematics and Art in the Renaissance. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Pp. 264. ISBN 0-19-852394-7. £29.50, $35.00. [REVIEW]Diederick Raven - 1999 - British Journal for the History of Science 32 (2):237-251.
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  16. added 2019-06-06
    Infinity and the Relation: The Emergence of a Notion of Infinity in Derrida's Reading of Husserl.Philip J. Maloney - 1996 - Philosophy Today 40 (3):418-429.
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  17. added 2019-06-06
    Review of Understanding the Infinite by Shaughan Lavine. [REVIEW]Michael Liston - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (3):480-482.
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  18. added 2019-06-06
    Infinity in Mathematics: Is Cantor Necessary?Solomon Feferman - 1989 - Philosophical Topics 17 (2):23-45.
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  19. added 2019-06-05
    Bolzano‘s Approach to the Paradoxes of Infinity: Implications for Teaching.Guillermina Waldegg - 2005 - Science & Education 14 (6):559-577.
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  20. added 2019-06-05
    Aristotle's Theory of the Infinite. Abraham Edel.Francis P. Clarke - 1935 - Philosophy of Science 2 (2):266-266.
  21. added 2019-04-13
    Three Infinities in Early Modern Philosophy.Anat Schechtman - 2019 - Mind 128 (512):1117-1147.
    Many historical and philosophical studies treat infinity as an exclusively quantitative notion, whose proper domain of application is mathematics and physics. The main aim of this paper is to disentangle, by critically examining, three notions of infinity in the early modern period, and to argue that one—but only one—of them is quantitative. One of these non-quantitative notions concerns being or reality, while the other concerns a particular iterative property of an aggregate. These three notions will emerge through examination of three (...)
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  22. added 2019-03-26
    Rumfitt on the Logic of Set Theory.Øystein Linnebo - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (7):826-841.
    ABSTRACTAccording to a famous argument by Dummett, the concept of set is indefinitely extensible, and the logic appropriate for reasoning about the instances of any such concept is intuitionistic, not classical. But Dummett's argument is widely regarded as obscure. This note explains how the final chapter of Rumfitt's important new book advances our understanding of Dummett's argument, but it also points out some problems and unanswered questions. Finally, Rumfitt's reconstruction of Dummett's argument is contrasted with my own preferred alternative.
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  23. added 2019-03-13
    Phenomenology and the Infinite: Levinas, Husserl, and the Fragility of the Finite.Drew M. Dalton - 2014 - Levinas Studies 9:23-51.
    Central to Levinas’ “phenomenological” approach to ethics is his identification of an “infinite signification” in the human face. This insistence on the appearance of an infinitely signifying phenomenon has led many, notably Dominique Janicaud, to decry Levinas’ work as anti-phenomenological: little more than a novel approach to metaphysics. A significant element of the phenomenological revolution, Janicaud insists, referencing Husserl and the early Heidegger for support, is grounded in the recognition that phenomena arise in and are circumscribed by finitude. Any reference (...)
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  24. added 2018-12-17
    Independence of the Grossone-Based Infinity Methodology From Non-Standard Analysis and Comments Upon Logical Fallacies in Some Texts Asserting the Opposite.Yaroslav Sergeyev - 2019 - Foundations of Science 24 (1):153-170.
    This paper considers non-standard analysis and a recently introduced computational methodology based on the notion of ①. The latter approach was developed with the intention to allow one to work with infinities and infinitesimals numerically in a unique computational framework and in all the situations requiring these notions. Non-standard analysis is a classical purely symbolic technique that works with ultrafilters, external and internal sets, standard and non-standard numbers, etc. In its turn, the ①-based methodology does not use any of these (...)
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  25. added 2018-12-17
    Numerical Infinities and Infinitesimals: Methodology, Applications, and Repercussions on Two Hilbert Problems.Yaroslav Sergeyev - 2017 - EMS Surveys in Mathematical Sciences 4 (2):219–320.
    In this survey, a recent computational methodology paying a special attention to the separation of mathematical objects from numeral systems involved in their representation is described. It has been introduced with the intention to allow one to work with infinities and infinitesimals numerically in a unique computational framework in all the situations requiring these notions. The methodology does not contradict Cantor’s and non-standard analysis views and is based on the Euclid’s Common Notion no. 5 “The whole is greater than the (...)
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  26. added 2018-12-17
    The Exact (Up to Infinitesimals) Infinite Perimeter of the Koch Snowflake and its Finite Area.Yaroslav Sergeyev - 2016 - Communications in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulation 31 (1-3):21–29.
    The Koch snowflake is one of the first fractals that were mathematically described. It is interesting because it has an infinite perimeter in the limit but its limit area is finite. In this paper, a recently proposed computational methodology allowing one to execute numerical computations with infinities and infinitesimals is applied to study the Koch snowflake at infinity. Numerical computations with actual infinite and infinitesimal numbers can be executed on the Infinity Computer being a new supercomputer patented in USA and (...)
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  27. added 2018-12-17
    The Olympic Medals Ranks, Lexicographic Ordering and Numerical Infinities.Yaroslav Sergeyev - 2015 - The Mathematical Intelligencer 37 (2):4-8.
    Several ways used to rank countries with respect to medals won during Olympic Games are discussed. In particular, it is shown that the unofficial rank used by the Olympic Committee is the only rank that does not allow one to use a numerical counter for ranking – this rank uses the lexicographic ordering to rank countries: one gold medal is more precious than any number of silver medals and one silver medal is more precious than any number of bronze medals. (...)
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  28. added 2018-12-12
    Zeno's Paradoxes.Nicholas Huggett - 2002
    Almost everything that we know about Zeno of Elea is to be found in the opening pages of Plato's Parmenides. There we learn that Zeno was nearly 40 years old when Socrates was a young man, say 20. Since Socrates was born in 469 BC we can estimate a birth date for Zeno around 490 BC. Beyond this, really all we know is that he was close to Parmenides (Plato reports the gossip that they were lovers when Zeno was young), (...)
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  29. added 2018-12-08
    Existence Is Evidence of Immortality.Michael Huemer - manuscript
    Time may be infinite in both directions. If it is, then, if persons could live at most once in all of time, the probability that you would be alive now would be zero. But if persons can live more than once, the probability that you would be alive now would be nonzero. Since you are alive now, with certainty, either the past is finite, or persons can live more than once.
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  30. added 2018-12-08
    Approaching Infinity.Michael Huemer - 2016 - New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  31. added 2018-12-08
    Aristotelian Finitism.Tamer Nawar - 2015 - Synthese 192 (8):2345-2360.
    It is widely known that Aristotle rules out the existence of actual infinities but allows for potential infinities. However, precisely why Aristotle should deny the existence of actual infinities remains somewhat obscure and has received relatively little attention in the secondary literature. In this paper I investigate the motivations of Aristotle’s finitism and offer a careful examination of some of the arguments considered by Aristotle both in favour of and against the existence of actual infinities. I argue that Aristotle has (...)
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  32. added 2018-10-10
    Outer and Inner Surfaces of Bodies.Rush Rhees - 2017 - Philosophical Investigations 40 (1):10-31.
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  33. added 2018-10-03
    Margaret Cavendish on the Order and Infinitude of Nature.Michael Bennett McNulty - 2018 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 35 (3):219-239.
    In this paper, I develop a new interpretation of the order of nature, its function, and its implications in Margaret Cavendish’s philosophy. According to the infinite balance account, the order of nature consists in a balance among the infinite varieties of nature. That is, for Cavendish, nature contains an infinity of different types of matter: infinite species, shapes, and motions. The potential tumult implicated by such a variety, however, is tempered by the counterbalancing of the different kinds and motions of (...)
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  34. added 2018-09-06
    A Road Map of Dedekind’s Theorem 66.Ansten Klev - 2018 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 8 (2):241-277.
    Richard Dedekind’s theorem 66 states that there exists an infinite set. Its proof invokes such apparently nonmathematical notions as the thought-world and the self. This article discusses the content and context of Dedekind’s proof. It is suggested that Dedekind took the notion of the thought-world from Hermann Lotze. The influence of Kant and Bernard Bolzano on the proof is also discussed, and the reception of the proof in the mathematical and philosophical literature is covered in detail.
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  35. added 2018-08-14
    Zeno of Elea' Paradoxes (The Dialectic of Stability and Motion from a Contemporary Mathematical View) مفارقات زينون: جدل الثبات والحركة من منظور رياضي معاصر.Salah Osman - 2004 - Menoufia University, Faculty of Arts Journal, Egypt 58:99 - 139.
    لا شك أن مفارقات زينون في الحركة قد تم تناولها – تحليلاً ونقدًا – في كثيرٍ من أدبيات العلم والفلسفة قديمًا وحديثًا، حتى لقد ساد الظن بأن ملف المفارقات قد أغُلق تمامًا، لاسيما بعد أن نجح الحساب التحليلي في التعامل منطقيًا مع صعوبات الأعداد اللامتناهية، لكن الفرض الأساسي لهذا البحث يزعم عكس ذلك؛ أعني أن الملف مازال مفتوحًا وبقوة – خصوصًا على المستوى الرياضي الفيزيائي – وأن إغلاقه النهائي قد لا يتم في المستقبل القريب. من جهة أخرى، إذا كانت فكرة (...)
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  36. added 2018-02-18
    The Infinite.A. W. Moore - 1990 - Routledge.
    Anyone who has pondered the limitlessness of space and time, or the endlessness of numbers, or the perfection of God will recognize the special fascination of this question. Adrian Moore's historical study of the infinite covers all its aspects, from the mathematical to the mystical.
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  37. added 2018-02-17
    Cantor’s Proof in the Full Definable Universe.Laureano Luna & William Taylor - 2010 - Australasian Journal of Logic 9:10-25.
    Cantor’s proof that the powerset of the set of all natural numbers is uncountable yields a version of Richard’s paradox when restricted to the full definable universe, that is, to the universe containing all objects that can be defined not just in one formal language but by means of the full expressive power of natural language: this universe seems to be countable on one account and uncountable on another. We argue that the claim that definitional contexts impose restrictions on the (...)
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  38. added 2018-02-17
    Topological Drinking Problems.Josh Parsons - 2006 - Analysis 66 (2):149-154.
    In my (2004), I argued that it is possible to drink any finite amount of alcohol without ever suffering a hangover by completing a certain kind of supertask. Assume that a drink causes drunkenness to ensue immediately and to last for a period proportional to the quantity of alcohol consumed; that a hangover begins immediately at the time the drunkenness ends and lasts for the same length of time as the drunkenness; and that at any time during which you are (...)
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  39. added 2017-11-09
    Infinite Cardinalities, Measuring Knowledge, and Probabilities in Fine-Tuning Arguments.Isaac Choi - 2018 - In Matthew A. Benton, John Hawthorne & Dani Rabinowitz (eds.), Knowledge, Belief, and God: New Insights in Religious Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  40. added 2017-09-28
    Das Unendliche und die Zahl.Charles W. Cobb - 1914 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 22 (2):16-16.
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  41. added 2017-09-12
    Infini des Philosophes, Infini des Astronomes.Françoise Monnoyeur (ed.) - 1995, 1999, 2003 - Editions Belin.
    L'astronomie se confronte à la réalité d'un cosmos fini ou infini. Au gré des théories astronomiques, physiques, mathématiques, philosophiques ou esthétiques, l'infini s'impose ou disparaît.
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  42. added 2017-09-12
    Influence des astronomes sur les philosophes pour penser l'infini.Francoise Monnoyeur - 1995 - In Infini des philosophes, infini des astronomes. Belin. pp. 11-19.
    In book: Infini des mathématiciens, infini des philosophes, Edition: 1992, 1995, 1999, 2002, 2008, 2011 ebook, Chapter: Introduction, Publisher: Belin, Paris, Editors: F. Monnoyeur, pp.9-16.
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  43. added 2017-09-12
    Infini des mathématiciens, infini des philosophes.Francoise Monnoyeur (ed.) - 1992, 1995, 1999 - Paris: Editions Belin.
    Ce livre éclaire les étapes de la réflexion sur la notion philosophique et mathématique d'infini du XIVe au XIXe siècle. Un infini inaccessible qui n'a cessé de stimuler l'activité des mathématiciens, des théologiens, des philosophes et des artistes. Tous ont mis, à leur manière, leur art à son service, afin de nous permettre de mieux appréhender et transcender le fini. Ce livre éclaire, du xive au xixe siècle, les étapes de la réflexion sur la notion philosophique et mathématique d'infini.
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  44. added 2017-09-12
    L'infini et l'indéfini dans la théorie cartésienne de la connaissance.Francoise Monnoyeur - 1992 - In Infini des mathématiciens, infini des philosophes. Belin. pp. 83-94.
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  45. added 2017-07-12
    Discrete and Continuous: A Fundamental Dichotomy in Mathematics.James Franklin - 2017 - Journal of Humanistic Mathematics 7 (2):355-378.
    The distinction between the discrete and the continuous lies at the heart of mathematics. Discrete mathematics (arithmetic, algebra, combinatorics, graph theory, cryptography, logic) has a set of concepts, techniques, and application areas largely distinct from continuous mathematics (traditional geometry, calculus, most of functional analysis, differential equations, topology). The interaction between the two – for example in computer models of continuous systems such as fluid flow – is a central issue in the applicable mathematics of the last hundred years. This article (...)
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  46. added 2017-05-02
    A (Partially) Skeptical Response to Hart and Russell.Denys A. Turner - 2011 - In Michał Heller & W. H. Woodin (eds.), Infinity: New Research Frontiers. Cambridge University Press. pp. 290.
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  47. added 2017-04-30
    On Infinite Size.Bruno Whittle - 2015 - In Oxford Studies in Metaphysics: Volume 9. Oxford University Press. pp. 3-19.
    Cantor showed that there are infinite sets that do not have one-to-one correspondences between them. The standard understanding of this result is that it shows that there are different sizes of infinity. This paper challenges this standard understanding, and argues, more generally, that we do not have any reason to think that there are different sizes of infinity. Two arguments are given against the claim that Cantor established that there are different such sizes: one involves an analogy between Cantor’s result (...)
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  48. added 2017-02-15
    The Infinite and the Ethical.Richard Feist - 2004 - Maritain Studies/Etudes Maritainiennes 20:43-53.
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  49. added 2017-02-14
    A Secret Ethics of Infinity.Janet Borgerson - forthcoming - Levinas, Business Ethics.
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  50. added 2017-02-14
    Mathematical Intelligence, Infinity and Machines: Beyond Godelitis.Giuseppe Longo - 1999 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (11-12):11-12.
    We informally discuss some recent results on the incompleteness of formal systems. These theorems, which are of great importance to contemporary mathematical epistemology, are proved using a variety of conceptual tools provably stronger than those of finitary axiomatisations. Those tools require no mathematical ontology, but rather constitute particularly concrete human constructions and acts of comprehending infinity and space rooted in different forms of knowledge. We shall also discuss, albeit very briefly, the mathematical intelligence both of God and of computers. We (...)
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