Jan 30

Philosophy job talk: "....A Direct Route for Leibniz"

"From Actually Infinite Division to the Absence of Precise Shapes: A Direct Route for Leibniz". All welcome. Pizza served.

Thursday, January 30th, 2014
12:00 – 1:00 pm / Leighton #402
Philosophy job talk 1-30-14

Abstract:  Leibniz often claims that no body has a “precise” or “exact” shape because bodies are actually infinitely subdivided into parts.  At the very least, Leibniz means to say that no body in nature is a sphere, or a torus, or has any other geometric shape we could assign to it.  However, Leibniz’s claims present a significant interpretive challenge:  For how on Leibniz’s view does the actually infinite subdivision of bodies rule out the possibility that bodies should have precise shapes?  I argue that if pressed, Leibniz would reason as follows:  (a.)  The precise shape of a body, if it were to have one, would have to be constituted by an actually infinite totality of parts into which the body is divided; (b.) There are no actually infinite totalities; therefore (c.) Bodies do not have precise shapes.  Leibniz’s rejection of precise shapes is thus revealed to be a consequence of his analysis of infinity and of the paradoxes of the continuum.   

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