Andrew Janiak, professor, Department of Philosophy, Duke University, Raleigh, North Carolina
Aristotle’s distinction between potential and actual infinity has an important afterlife in early modern discussions of space and geometry. Descartes seems to argue that space, which is identical with the material world, is merely potentially infinite, concluding that only God, who is distinct from the world, is actually infinite. In unpublished work, Newton rejects this Cartesian view, contending that God inhabits the world, which consequently should be characterized as actually infinite. Newton’s view, held on robust metaphysical grounds, raises intriguing questions about how geometric methods can be employed to represent infinite objects and an infinite space.
This talk is part of the HPS Colloquium Series.
Co-Sponsored with Philosophy