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Understanding the Infinite

Understanding the Infinite

Shaughan Lavine

ISBN 9780674921177

Publication date: 01/13/1998

How can the infinite, a subject so remote from our finite experience, be an everyday tool for the working mathematician? Blending history, philosophy, mathematics, and logic, Shaughan Lavine answers this question with exceptional clarity. Making use of the mathematical work of Jan Mycielski, he demonstrates that knowledge of the infinite is possible, even according to strict standards that require some intuitive basis for knowledge.


  • Understanding the Infinite is a remarkable blend of mathematics, modern history, philosophy, and logic, laced with refreshing doses of common sense. It is a potted history of, and a philosophical commentary on, the modern notion of infinity as formalized in axiomatic set theory...An amazingly readable [book] given the difficult subject matter. Most of all, it is an eminently sensible book. Anyone who wants to explore the deep issues surrounding the concept of infinity...will get a great deal of pleasure from it.

    —Ian Stewart, New Scientist


  • Shaughan Lavine is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona.

Book Details

  • 376 pages
  • 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press