Richard ARTHUR

Leibniz vs. Locke on the Infinite.

vendredi 1er octobre, 11h20-11h50
Résumé de la communication :

On the face of it, there are several inconsistencies in the account of the infinite that Leibniz gives in the New Essays. He claims, in opposition to Locke, that the idea of the genuine infinite (the absolute) is internal to us, yet in the Preface he had said that "all we can do with infinities is to know them confusedly"; and though he agrees with Locke that there is no infinite number, he insists that there is an infinity of things in the smallest part of matter.

I shall argue here that the inconsistency among these apparently discursive responses to Locke is removed by attention to Leibniz's tripartite distinction among the syncategorematic, categorematic and absolute infinities, which is part of a long-held theory of the infinite that successfully underpins both his mathematics and natural philosophy; but that his defence of the absolute as a species of infinite is not ultimately cogent.