HPS Colloquium - Andrew Janiak


Location: 220 Malloy Hall

This talk is part of the HPS Colloquium Series
Co-Sponsored with Philosophy

Andrew Janiak

Abstract: Aristotle's distinction between potential and actual infinity has an important afterlife in early modern discussions of space and geometry. Descartes seems to argue that space, which is identical with the material world, is merely potentially infinite, concluding that only God, who is distinct from the world, is actually infinite. In unpublished work, Newton rejects this Cartesian view, contending that God inhabits the world, which consequently should be characterized as actually infinite. Newton's view, held on robust metaphysical grounds, raises intriguing questions about how geometric methods can be employed to represent infinite objects and an infinite space.

Janiak is the Creed C. Black Associate Professor of Philosophy and a member of the Bass Society of Fellows at Duke. Since 2007, he has been Director of the Graduate Program in History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine (affectionately known as "HPSTM"). The program currently has graduate students in Chemistry, English, History and Philosophy from Duke, and students from English and Comparative Literature from UNC Chapel Hill.

Andrew Janiak is an Associate Editor of Studies in History and Philosophy of Science.

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