Bolzano versus Kant: mathematics as a scientia universalis

Philosophical Papers Dedicated to Kevin Mulligan (2011)
Authors
Paola Cantù
Università degli Studi di Genova
Abstract
The paper discusses some changes in Bolzano's definition of mathematics attested in several quotations from the Beyträge, Wissenschaftslehre and Grössenlehre: is mathematics a theory of forms or a theory of quantities? Several issues that are maintained throughout Bolzano's works are distinguished from others that were accepted in the Beyträge and abandoned in the Grössenlehre. Changes are interpreted as a consequence of the new logical theory of truth introduced in the Wissenschaftslehre, but also as a consequence of the overcome of Kant's terminology, and of the radicalization of Bolzano's anti‐Kantianism. Bolzano's evolution is understood as a coherent move, once the criticism expressed in the Beyträge on the notion of quantity is compared with a different and larger notion of quantity that Bolzano developed already in 1816. This discussion is enriched by the discovery that two unknown texts mentioned by Bolzano in the Beyträge can be identified with works by von Spaun and Vieth respectively. Bolzano's evolution is interpreted as a radicalization of the criticism of the Kantian definition of mathematics and as an effect of Bolzano's unaltered interest in the Leibnizian notion of mathesis universalis. As a conclusion, the author claims that Bolzano never abandoned his original idea of considering mathematics as a scientia universalis, i.e. as the science of quantities in general, and suggests that the question of ideal elements in mathematics, apart from being a main reason for the development of a new logical theory, can also be considered as a main reason for developing a different definition of quantity.
Keywords quantity  mathematics  Bolzano  mathesis universalis  Kant  logic
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