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Georg Cantor -
Finite
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That from the outset they expect or even impose all the properties of finite numbers upon the numbers in question, while on the other hand the infinite numbers, if they are to be considered in any form at all, must (in their contrast to the finite numbers) constitute an entirely new kind of number, whose nature is entirely dependent upon the nature of things and is an object of research, but not of our arbitrariness or prejudices.
Georg Cantor
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As for the mathematical infinite, to the extent that it has found a justified application in science and contributed to is usefulness, it seems to me that it has hitherto appeared principally in the role of a variable quantity, which either grows beyond all bounds or diminishes to any desired minuteness, but always remains finite. I call this the improper infinite [das Uneigentlich-unendliche].
Georg Cantor
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What I assert and believe to have demonstrated in this and earlier works is that following the finite there is a transfinite (which one could also call the supra-finite), that is an unbounded ascending ladder of definite modes, which by their nature are not finite but infinite, but which just like the finite can be determined by well-defined and distinguishable numbers.
Georg Cantor
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Infinity, in its first form (the improper-infinite) presents itself as a variable finite [veranderliches Endliches]; in the other form (which I call the proper infinite [Eigentlich-unendliche]) it appears as a thoroughly determinate [bestimmtes] infinite.
Georg Cantor
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The potential infinite means nothing other than an undetermined, variable quantity, always remaining finite, which has to assume values that either become smaller than any finite limit no matter how small, or greater than any finite limit no matter how great.
Georg Cantor
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The transfinite numbers are in a certain sense themselves new irrationalities and in fact in my opinion the best method of defining the finite irrational numbers is wholly dissimilar to, and I might even say in principle the same as, my method described above of introducing transfinite numbers. One can say unconditionally: the transfinite numbers stand or fall with the finite irrational numbers; they are like each other in their innermost being; for the former like the latter are definite delimited forms or modifications of the actual infinite.
Georg Cantor
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What I declare and believe to have demonstrated in this work as well as in earlier papers is that following the finite there is a transfinite (transfinitum)—which might also be called supra-finite (suprafinitum), that is, there is an unlimited ascending ladder of modes, which in its nature is not finite but infinite, but which can be determined as can the finite by determinate, well-defined and distinguishable numbers.
Georg Cantor
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Georg Cantor
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Born:
March 3, 1845
Died:
January 6, 1918
(aged 72)
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