Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-31-1991

Abstract

Georg Cantor (1845-1918) was a devout Lutheran whose explicit Christian beliefs shaped his philosophy of science. Joseph Dauben has traced the impact Cantor's Christian convictions had on the development of transfinite set theory. In this paper I propose to examine how Cantor's transfinite set theory has contributed to an increasingly contingent world view in modern science. The contingence of scientific theories is not just a cautious tentativeness, but arises out of the actual state of the universe itself. The mathematical entities Cantor studied, transfinite numbers, he admitted were fraught with paradoxes. But he believed that they were grounded in a reality beyond this universe, not finally determinable by any mathematical system.

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