green numbers give full details | back to texts | unexpand this idea
13190 | I don't admit infinite numbers, and consider infinitesimals to be useful fictions |
Full Idea: Notwithstanding my infinitesimal calculus, I do not admit any real infinite numbers, even though I confess that the multitude of things surpasses any finite number, or rather any number. ..I consider infinitesimal quantities to be useful fictions. | |||
From: Gottfried Leibniz (Letters to Samuel Masson [1716], 1716) | |||
A reaction: With the phrase 'useful fictions' we seem to have jumped straight into Harty Field. I'm with Leibniz on this one. The history of mathematics is a series of ingenious inventions, whenever they seem to make further exciting proofs possible. |