And the Eternal Zeno Springs to Mind

  • Piergiorgio Odifreddi
Conference paper


There is a concept which corrupts and upsets all others. I do not refer to Evil, whose limited realm is that of ethics; I refer to the infinite. I once longed to compile its mobile history. The numerous Hydra (the swamp monster which amounts to a prefiguration or emblem of geometric progressions) would lend convenient horror to its portico; it would be crowned by the sordid nightmares of Kafka and its central chapters would not ignore the conjectures of that remote German cardinal — Nicholas of Krebs, Nicholas of Cusa — who saw in the circumference of the circle a polygon with an infinite number of sides and wrote that an infinite line would be a straight line, a triangle, a circle, and a sphere (De docta ignorantia, I, 13, [1]. Five, seven years of metaphysical, theological, and mathematical apprenticeship would allow me (perhaps) to plan decorously such a book. It is useless to add that life forbids me that hope and even that adverb [2].


Short Story Penguin Book Divine Comedy Mobile History Literary Metaphor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    J. Hopkins: Nicholas of Cusa on Learned Ignorance: A Translation and an Appreaisal of De Docta Ignorantia (The Arthur J. Banning Press, Minneapolis 1985)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    J.L. Borges: Avatars of the Tortoise. In: Labyrinths (Penguin Books, Harmondsworth 1970)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    L. Diogenes: Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers (Kessinger Publishing Co., Whitefish 2007)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Aristotle: Physics (Oxford University Press, Oxford 1996)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hui Shi, in The complete works of Chuang Tzu (Columbia University Press, New York and London 1968)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Plato: Parmenides (Focus Philosophical Library, Newburyport 1996)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    L. Sterne: The life and opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman (Penguin, London 2003)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    L. Carroll: What the Tortoise said to Achilles, Mind, 4 (1895)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    L. Wittgenstein: Philosophical Investigations (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs 1987)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    F.H. Bradley: Appearance and Reality: a Metaphysical Essay (Adamant Media Corporation, Boston 2005)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    J. Royce: The World and the Individual (Peter Smith Inc., Gloucester 1976)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    J.L. Borges: El Hacedor, Dreamtigers (University of Texas Press, Austin 1964)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    F. Kafka: The great wall of China. In: The Complete Short Stories (Vintage, United Kingdom 1992)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    P. Odifreddi: Un matematico legge Borges, Le Scienze 372 (1999) 76–81Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    J.L. Borges: Death and the Compass. In: Labyrinths (Penguin Books, Harmondsworth 1970)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    J.L. Borges: The God’s Script. In: Labyrinths, (Penguin Books, Harmondsworth 1970)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Piergiorgio Odifreddi
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di MatematicaUniversità degli Studi di TorinoItaly

Personalised recommendations