Is There an Ontology of Infinity?

Foundations of Science 25 (3):519-540 (2020)
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Abstract

In this article I try to articulate a defensible argumentation against the idea of an ontology of infinity. My position is phenomenologically motivated and in this virtue strongly influenced by the Husserlian reduction of the ontological being to a process of subjective constitution within the immanence of consciousness. However taking into account the historical charge and the depth of the question of infinity over the centuries I also include a brief review of the platonic and aristotelian views and also those of Locke and Hume on the concept to the extent that they are relevant to my own discussion of infinity both in a purely philosophical and epistemological context. Concerning the latter context, I argue against Kanamori’s position, in The Infinite as Method in Set Theory and Mathematics, that the mathematical infinite can be accounted for solely in terms of epistemological articulation, that is, in the way it is approached, assimilated, and applied in the course of the construction of mathematical hierarchies. Instead I point to a subjectively constituted immanent ‘infinity’ in virtue of the a priori as well as factual characteristics of subjective constitution, underlying and conditioning any talk of infinity in an epistemological sense. From this viewpoint I also address some other positions on the question of a possible ontology of the mathematical infinite. My whole approach to the question of the infinite in an epistemological sense hinges on the assumption that the mathematical infinite subsumes the infinite of physical theories to the extent that physics and science in general deal with the infinite in terms of the corresponding mathematical language and the specific techniques involved.

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Stathis Livadas
University of Patras (Alumnus)

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References found in this work

Frege.Michael Dummett - 1973 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Being and event.Alain Badiou - 2005 - New York: Continuum. Edited by Oliver Feltham.
Cognition and commitment in Hume's philosophy.Don Garrett - 1997 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Set theory and the continuum hypothesis.Paul J. Cohen - 1966 - New York,: W. A. Benjamin.

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