Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Infinite, Renaissance Idea of

  • Valentina ZaffinoEmail author
Living reference work entry

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_934-2


Reflection upon the infinite (apeiron in Greek, infinitum in Latin) crosses the whole history of thought and involves several fields of knowledge: philosophy itself, theology, cosmology, and logic-mathematics. The Greek term apeiron stands for something that possesses neither physical limitations nor determined qualities, an entity lacking a conceptual determination defining it (see Anaximander). During Antiquity, only few philosophers allowed for the existence of actual infinite reality; rather, Aristotle’s view of a merely potential existence of the infinite was what prevailed. From the sixteenth century onwards, astronomical discoveries challenged the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic cosmological system: the estimated distance between the center of the Earth and the last sphere grew progressively larger. This scientific advancement was joined in theology-philosophy by the thought that God, who is infinite in act, infinitely good, and the origin of the created universe, does not create finite reality. Rather, He manifests his infinite power by creating an infinite cosmos (this assumption is shared by Nicholas of Cusa and Giordano Bruno).

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of PhilosophyPontifical Lateran UniversityRomeVatican City State

Section editors and affiliations

  • Matteo Valleriani
    • 1
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for the History of ScienceBerlinGermany