Apophatic Finitism and Infinitism

Logique Et Analyse 62 (247):319-337 (2019)
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This article is about the ontological dispute between finitists, who claim that only finitely many numbers exist, and infinitists, who claim that infinitely many numbers exist. Van Bendegem set out to solve the 'general problem' for finitism: how can one recast finite fragments of classical mathematics in finitist terms? To solve this problem Van Bendegem comes up with a new brand of finitism, namely so-called 'apophatic finitism'. In this article it will be argued that apophatic finitism is unable to represent the negative ontological commitments of infinitism or, in other words, that which does not exist according to infinitism. However, there is a brand of infinitism, so-called 'apophatic infinitism', that is able to represent both the positive and the negative ontological commitments of apophatic finitism. Unfortunately, apophatic finitism cannot adopt that way without losing the ability to represent the positive ontological commitments of infinitism.

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Jan Heylen
KU Leuven


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