When series go in indefinitum, ad infinitum and in infinitum concepts of infinity in Kant’s antinomy of pure reason

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Abstract

© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. In the section of the Antinomy of pure Reason Kant presents three notions of infinity. By investigating these concepts of infinity, this paper highlights important ‘building blocks’ of the structure of the mathematical antinomies, such as the ability of reason of producing ascending and descending series, as well as the notions of given and givable series. These structural features are discussed in order to clarify Ernst Zermelo’s reading of Kant’s antinomy, according to which the latter is deeply rooted in the tendency of the mind of producing “creative progress” and “inclusive closure”. The aim of this paper is to explain in which sense and why Kant’s treatment of the antinomies attracts the attention of Zermelo in the early 1900s and which aspects of his second axiomatic system have been inspired by Kant’s philosophy. Thus, by reading Kant’s antinomy ‘through Zermelo’s eyes’—with emphasis on the concept of regressive series in indefinitum and on that of regressive series ad infinitum – this paper identifies the echoes of Kant’s work in the making of the ZFC set theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2395-2412
JournalSynthese
Volume192
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2015

Keywords

  • Antinomy
  • Infinity
  • Kant
  • Series
  • Zermelo

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