Retrieving the Mathematical Mission of the Continuum Concept from the Transfinitely Reductionist Debris of Cantor’s Paradise. Extended Abstract

International Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics (forthcoming)
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What is so special and mysterious about the Continuum, this ancient, always topical, and alongside the concept of integers, most intuitively transparent and omnipresent conceptual and formal medium for mathematical constructions and the battle field of mathematical inquiries ? And why it resists the century long siege by best mathematical minds of all times committed to penetrate once and for all its set-theoretical enigma ? The double-edged purpose of the present study is to save from the transfinite deadlock of higher set theory the jewel of mathematical Continuum -- this genuine, even if mostly forgotten today raison d'etre of all set-theoretical enterprises to Infinity and beyond, from Georg Cantor to W. Hugh Woodin to Buzz Lightyear, by simultaneously exhibiting the limits and pitfalls of all old and new reductionist foundational approaches to mathematical truth: be it Cantor's or post-Cantorian Idealism, Brouwer's or post-Brouwerian Constructivism, Hilbert's or post-Hilbertian Formalism, Goedel's or post-Goedelian Platonism. In the spirit of Zeno's paradoxes, but with the enormous historical advantage of hindsight, we claim that Cantor's set-theoretical methodology, powerful and reach in proof-theoretic and similar applications as it might be, is inherently limited by its epistemological framework of transfinite local causality, and neither can be held accountable for the properties of the Continuum already acquired through geometrical, analytical, and arithmetical studies, nor can it be used for an adequate, conceptually sensible, operationally workable, and axiomatically sustainable re-creation of the Continuum. From a strictly mathematical point of view, this intrinsic limitation of the constative and explicative power of higher set theory finds its explanation in the identified in this study ultimate phenomenological obstacle to Cantor's transfinite construction, similar to topological obstacles in homotopy theory and theoretical physics: the entanglement capacity of the mathematical Continuum.

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Edward G. Belaga
Strasbourg University


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