The negative theology of absolute infinity : Cantor, mathematics, and humility

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2024
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International Journal for Philosophy of Religion. Springer. ISSN 0020-7047. eISSN 1572-8684. Verfügbar unter: doi: 10.1007/s11153-023-09897-8
Zusammenfassung

Cantor argued that absolute infinity is beyond mathematical comprehension. His arguments imply that the domain of mathematics cannot be grasped by mathematical means. We argue that this inability constitutes a foundational problem. For Cantor, however, the domain of mathematics does not belong to mathematics, but to theology. We thus discuss the theological significance of Cantor’s treatment of absolute infinity and show that it can be interpreted in terms of negative theology. Proceeding from this interpretation, we refer to the recent debate on absolute generality and argue that the method of diagonalization constitutes a modern version of the via negativa. On our reading, negative theology can evoke an attitude of humility with respect to the boundedness of the human condition. Along these lines, we think that the foundational problem of mathematics concerning its domain can be addressed through a methodological attitude of humility.

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ISO 690GUTSCHMIDT, Rico, Merlin CARL, 2024. The negative theology of absolute infinity : Cantor, mathematics, and humility. In: International Journal for Philosophy of Religion. Springer. ISSN 0020-7047. eISSN 1572-8684. Verfügbar unter: doi: 10.1007/s11153-023-09897-8
BibTex
@article{Gutschmidt2024negat-69985,
  year={2024},
  doi={10.1007/s11153-023-09897-8},
  title={The negative theology of absolute infinity : Cantor, mathematics, and humility},
  issn={0020-7047},
  journal={International Journal for Philosophy of Religion},
  author={Gutschmidt, Rico and Carl, Merlin}
}
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