Document Type

Honors Project


One of the greatest developments in mathematics was Georg Cantor's theory of infinity. His work provided a new framework to think about age-old problems in both mathematics and philosophy. Given these developments, it is tempting to write off previous thinkers has having a primitive and undeveloped theory of infinity. However, this attitude undermines the complexity and importance of the theories which existed prior to Cantor. Benedict Spinoza is one philosopher who had a highly developed theory, despite lacking the mathematical tools developed by Cantor. He held that there were three different kinds of infinity, each with different properties and roles to play in his metaphysical system. This thesis examines these types of infinity and how they interact with Spinoza's overall philosophy. The first chapter focuses on a letter Spinoza wrote which outlines his views on infinity. By attending to the ways Spinoza understood infinity, new solutions and problems emerge in Spinoza scholarship, which are covered in the second and third chapters. The final chapter covers Spinoza's legacy and shows the influence that his thought had on Leibniz, as well as Georg Cantor.

Included in

Philosophy Commons



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