FOM: Re: [HM] Aristotle's like-minded persons about Actual Infinity

Julio Gonzalez Cabillon jgc at
Sun Sep 13 18:11:00 EDT 1998

On Sat, 12 Sep 1998, Alexander Zenkin wrote: 
:  As is known, Aristotle was the first person who explicitly and
:  definitely postulated:  "Infinitum actu non datur".
:  I think it would be interesting (for different goals : -) ) to list all
:  his famous like-minded persons. Today, I have the following very
:  approximate beginning of such the list: 
And on Sunday, 13 Sep 1998, Gregory H. Moore remarked: 
| Leibniz does not belong on this list, since he accepted the actual
| infinite.  See, for example, the passage from Leibniz (quoted by
| Cantor, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, p.179) beginning "Je suis tellement pour
| l'infini actuel ...".

Leibniz's opinions/beliefs (?) about the infinite seemed to vary according
to 'pompa & circunstancia'. The passage referred to above is that also
quoted on p. 124 of Dauben's "Georg Cantor: His Mathematics and Philosophy
of the Infinite" [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979].
Dauben remarks that "... Cantor was happy to claim him [= Leibniz] as a
supporter of the former", but apparently both without recalling of a letter
that Leibniz wrote a couple of months before his death in which he states
without euphemisms "I told them that I did not believe at all in the
existence of magnitudes actually infinite or actually infinitesimal..."
(p. 500) [*]. If my memory serves, Paolo Mancosu has discussed this issue.

[*] "Lettre a\ M. Dangicourt", September 1716, pp. 499-502 in vol. III
(Opera mathematica) of Leibniz's _Opera Omnia_, edited by Louis Dutens,
Genevae: Apud Fratres de Tournes, 1768.

Julio Gonzalez Cabillon

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