Aristotelian Finitism

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Abstract

It is widely known that Aristotle rules out the existence of actual infinities but allows for potential infinities. However, precisely why Aristotle should deny the existence of actual infinities remains somewhat obscure and has received relatively little attention in the secondary literature. In this paper I investigate the motivations of Aristotle’s finitism and offer a careful examination of some of the arguments considered by Aristotle both in favour of and against the existence of actual infinities. I argue that Aristotle has good reason to resist the traditional arguments offered in favour of the existence of the infinite and that, while there is a lacuna in his own ‘logical’ arguments against actual infinities, his arguments against the existence of infinite magnitude and number are valid and more well grounded than commonly supposed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2345–2360
Number of pages16
JournalSynthese
Volume192
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Aristotle
  • Aristotelian commentators
  • Infinity
  • Mathematics
  • Metaphysics

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