Single Idea 8660

[catalogued under 26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 5. Infinite in Nature]

Full Idea

Aristotle developed his own distinction between potential infinity (never running out) and actual infinity (there being a collection of an actual infinite number of things, such as places, times, objects). He decided that actual infinity was incoherent.

Gist of Idea

There are potential infinities (never running out), but actual infinity is incoherent


report of Aristotle (works [c.330 BCE]) by Michèle Friend - Introducing the Philosophy of Mathematics 1.3

Book Reference

Friend,Michèle: 'Introducing the Philosophy of Mathematics' [Acumen 2007], p.7

A Reaction

Friend argues, plausibly, that this won't do, since potential infinity doesn't make much sense if there is not an actual infinity of things to supply the demand. It seems to just illustrate how boggling and uncongenial infinity was to Aristotle.