Browse Prior Art Database

Infinity and experience

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000128060D
Original Publication Date: 1998-Dec-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Sep-14
Document File: 4 page(s) / 16K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Sereno, Lisa Ann: AUTHOR [+3]

Related Documents

http://theses.mit.edu:80/Dienst/UI/2.0/Describe/0018.mit.theses/1998-209: URL

Abstract

This dissertation explores the relationship between our experience and knowledge of the infinite. The first chapter is a critical examination of Shaughan Lavine's project in Understanding the Infinite. Lavine argues that although we do not experience the infinite, we can explain how we acquire knowledge of the infinite by appeal to our experience of the indefinitely large. I argue that Lavine's proposal fails.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 50% of the total text.

Page 1 of 4

 This record is the front matter from a document that appears on a server at MIT and is used through permission from MIT. See http://theses.mit.edu:80/Dienst/UI/2.0/Describe/0018.mit.theses/1998-209 for copyright details and for the full document in image form.

INFINITY AND EXPERIENCE

by

Lisa Ann Sereno
B.S., University of California at Los Angeles.....1991 M.A., University of California at Los
Angeles.....1991
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology February 1999
SIGNATURE OF author: [[signature omitted]]

Department of Linguistics and Philosophy

October 15, 199

CERTIFIED BY: [[SIGNATURE OMITTED]]

Robert Stalnaker

Professor of Philosophy Thesis Supervisor

ACCEPTED BY: [[SIGNATURE OMITTED]]

Vann McGee Chairman, Department Committee on Graduate Students ARCHIVES MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY LIBRARIES MAR 26 1999

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Page 1 Dec 31, 1998

Page 2 of 4

Infinity and experience

INFINITY AND EXPERIENCE

by

Lisa Ann Sereno

Submitted to the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy on October 15, 1998 in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy

ABSTRACT

This dissertation explores the relationship between our experience and knowledge of the infinite. The first chapter is a critical examination of Shaughan Lavine's project in Understanding the Infinite. Lavine argues that although we do not experience the infinite, we can explain how we acquire knowledge of the infinite by appeal to our experience of the indefinitely large. I argue that Lavine's proposal fails.

In the second chapter I argue that, contrary to what Lavine and others have claimed, we can have " experiences of the infinite. " In particular, I argue that we can have a perceptual illusion of an infinite sequence when we see certain pictures.

In the third chapter, I argue that the experiences of the infinite discussed in the second chapter help us defend a central tenet of modal structuralism, namely the claim that there could exist infinitely many objects. In order to show that we have evidence for this modal claim, I explain how, in general, we can use pictures to establish that the depicted object could exist. I argue that upon seeing a picture, we can obtain evidence that a picture represents a " coherent " rather than an " incoherent " spatial configuration, and furthermore, that if we obtain evidence that a picture represents a coherent spatial configuration, we thereby obtain evidence that the depicted object could exist. I then use this " picture method " to show that by seeing a picture of an infinite sequence, we can obtain evidence for the modal claim that an infinite sequence could exist.

Thesis Supervisor: Robert Stalnaker Title: Professor of Philosophy

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

George Boolos originally suggested this topic to me and shaped my thinking on it. I was extremely lucky to have George...