Cantor, God, and Inconsistent Multiplicities

Abstract

The importance of Georg Cantor’s religious convictions is often neglected in discussions of his mathematics and metaphysics. Herein I argue, pace Jan ́e (1995), that due to the importance of Christianity to Cantor, he would have never thought of absolutely infinite collections/inconsistent multiplicities,as being merely potential, or as being purely mathematical entities. I begin by considering and rejecting two arguments due to Ignacio Jan ́e based on letters to Hilbert and the generating principles for ordinals, respectively, showing that my reading of Cantor is consistent with that evidence. I then argue that evidence from Cantor’s later writings shows that he was still very religious later in his career, and thus would not have given up on the reality of the absolute, as that would imply an imperfection on the part of God.

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Author's Profile

Aaron Thomas-Bolduc
University of Calgary

References found in this work

Cantorian Set Theory and Limitation of Size.Michael Hallett - 1984 - Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
Global Reflection Principles.P. D. Welch - 2017 - In I. Niiniluoto, H. Leitgeb, P. Seppälä & E. Sober (eds.), Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science - Proceedings of the 15th International Congress, 2015. College Publications.
Idealist and Realist Elements in Cantor's Approach to Set Theory.I. Jane - 2010 - Philosophia Mathematica 18 (2):193-226.

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