Abstraction and Infinity by Paolo Mancosu

By Paolo Mancosu

Paolo Mancosu offers an unique research of historic and systematic facets of the notions of abstraction and infinity and their interplay. a well-known means of introducing innovations in arithmetic rests on so-called definitions via abstraction. An instance of this can be Hume's precept, which introduces the concept that of quantity by means of declaring that innovations have a similar quantity if and provided that the gadgets falling less than each of them might be installed one-one correspondence. This precept is on the center of neo-logicism.

In the 1st chapters of the e-book, Mancosu presents a historic research of the mathematical makes use of and foundational dialogue of definitions by means of abstraction as much as Frege, Peano, and Russell. bankruptcy one exhibits that abstraction ideas have been particularly common within the mathematical perform that preceded Frege's dialogue of them and the second one bankruptcy offers the 1st contextual research of Frege's dialogue of abstraction ideas in part sixty four of the Grundlagen. within the moment a part of the e-book, Mancosu discusses a unique method of measuring the dimensions of countless units often called the idea of numerosities and indicates how this new improvement results in deep mathematical, ancient, and philosophical difficulties. the ultimate bankruptcy of the ebook discover how this thought of numerosities may be exploited to supply strangely novel views on neo-logicism.

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And in Chapter . Let us now look at theories of irrational numbers before moving on to geometry and set theory. The importance of real analysis (irrational numbers) and set theory to Frege’s understanding of definition by abstraction cannot be exaggerated. It is with reference to Cantor  that Frege introduces the possibility of defining the notion of number through a definition by abstraction. Of course, Frege has no sympathy for the ‘psychological’ process of abstraction described by Cantor whereby one starts from a given set and then abstracts both from the specific features of the objects and from the order of the elements (see the draft of Frege’s critical review of Cantor in Frege , pp.

Despite the fact that Desargues does not explicitly restate the equivalence relation into an equality, and provides what looks like an attempt at an explicit definition in terms of ‘place’, I think a definition by abstraction comes very close to what he is actually doing. That lines a and b belong to the same ordinance can, in the case of parallel lines, now be expressed by BSO(a, b) iff butt∗ (a) = butt∗ (b). It should be evident that, despite my carefulness above, the way is now open to interpret the notion of butt∗ (a) as that of direction.

To convey that we are considering the case in which several lines are parallel to one another we often say that the lines belong to the same ordinance, whose butt is at an infinite distance along each of them in both directions. 28 In the Grundlagen, Frege first explores the possibility of defining numerical identity through a ‘thick’ definition by abstraction and, having found the outcome unsatisfactory, he gives an explicit definition of ‘the number of a concept C’ thereby obtaining the biconditional corresponding to the definition by abstraction as a theorem based on the explicit definition of ‘number of concept C’ as an extension.

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