Origin of Infinity

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by FutureTrackStar, Feb 28, 2009.

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  1. FutureTrackStar

    FutureTrackStar Registered Member

    So I came up with this thought experiment about a month ago. I believe it was Okham, in the medieval era of philosophy, who said that there are two kinds of existence: in the mind and in reality. He proposed that one cannot use solely a concept in the mind to prove its existence in reality. He called the things which exist only in the mind "thought objects".

    So, think of a thought object, that is, something imaginary like a unicorn. Is it not based entirely upon reality? A unicorn is a horse with white hair and a horn. A hippogriff is some sort of horse-eagle. Numbers represent real quantities in nature, that is, there is such a thing as singularity and plurality has many forms, 3, 4, 5, etc. So it seems that our imagination is limited to our relation with the real world, our memories and experiences and senses, which is what Hobbes and Hume argued.

    But what about infinity. On what reality is that based on. And by infinity, I do not speak of 0/0 or that sideways 8 used in math class. I'm talking about "that than which nothing greater can be thought", which is necessarily greater than "that than which nothing greater can be thought". The thing that contains all things, but is, through its own definition, infinitely larger than the sum of all things. Surely, if infinity were a "thought object" and did not actually exist, it should be based on some sort of reality just as a hippogriff or a purple cow is.

    So how is infinity expressed, other than itself? One might say that one thinks of it simply by observing passing time and imagining the time going on forever... but this concept of foreverness uses the concept of infinity. One might say that one observes the nature of summations, how larger quantities are composed of the sum of smaller quantities, so infinity could be the sum of the number 1 added to itself many times forever AWW CRAP that uses the concept of infinity as well.

    So where does this concept come from? Did our teachers teach it to us? What was their definition? On what reality did they express their definition other than infinity itself in order to show us what infinity is?

    It is my contention that humans are born with the concept of infinity already implanted in their brain, which is the only reason why we appear to be so much more advanced than animals. But the questions still remain: How do we know what infinity is? Where did this concept come from?

    I think there are two possible answers: 1. All humans create this great concept out of absolute nothingness. But if this is so, how does a finite thing create, out of nothing, the thought of infinity.
    2. Infinity does exist in reality, which is how we know what it is. But this infinity is not bound to time, it exists in and of itself by its own definition. If it were limited to anything other than itself then it would not be itself. Therefore this infinity is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and is a person.

    You can see what I'm doing here. Who disagrees with my argument? Please, refute it.

  2. Corona

    Corona Registered Member

    You disregarded Hobbes', Hume's, and Locke's argument too quickly. As children, we learn the concept of numbers. We grasp the concept of two, three, four, addition, and subtraction, through the relationships of the numbers to some amount of objects, such as stuffed animals or candy. Locke said there are only two ways that we can come by knowledge. This elementary concept of numbers we grasp by observation (Locke's first method of obtaining knowledge). The concept of infinity we grasp by reflection (the second of Locke's ways of obtaining knowledge). By grasping the elementary concept of numbers it is relatively easy to extrapolate and imagine "What if I had more candy? And more? What if I never ran out of candy, no matter how much I ate?" And thus, we form a simple concept of infinity.
  3. FutureTrackStar

    FutureTrackStar Registered Member

    But in order to think the thought "What if I never ran out of candy" you are using the thought of infinity to do that. What gives this child the notion that this candy could be somehow forever obtainable?
  4. FutureTrackStar

    FutureTrackStar Registered Member

    THAT DOESN'T WORK! In order to ask the question "What if I never ran out of candy, no matter how much I ate?" you must already have the concept of infinity in your mind. How is that child able to ask this question if he/she knows not what infinity is? Remember, eternity is infinite time, the sideways 8 is an eternal summation. HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT INFINITY IS?
  5. Corona

    Corona Registered Member

    Ok, I see now. No matter what I say there is no way to dislodge you.
  6. FutureTrackStar

    FutureTrackStar Registered Member

    Dislodge me from what? What are you taking about? All I did was ask a question. You don't have to answer if you don't want to... or if you can't.
  7. PretzelCorps

    PretzelCorps Registered Member

    An example of infinity, without using a single word that's related to infinity:

    • Step 1: X = 0
    • Step 2: X = X + 1
    • Step 3: Goto Step 2
    It really isn't that tough of a concept.

    edit - And here's a pictorial definition:


    Just because a concept cannot be adequately described or defined in words, does not mean it is indescribable or indefinable. How do you define the word "blue"?

    Steerpike II. :rolleyes::shake:
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2009
  8. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    Infinity as we understand it is a rule. We simply know how to apply it, and plenty of people have misunderstandings about it. For instance: .9999... = 1. Many people have difficulty with that because they imagine the infinite decimal expansion as a bunch of nines forever being tacked onto the end, but that's not how the rule works in math. There is nothing you can add to .9999... to get 1, because it is equal to 1.

    So how did we learn this rule? Mostly by observing it being used in context, I would imagine, just as we learn to use many words. We simply mimic how we've seen it used, and if we make a mistake, someone could very well correct us, which enhances our understanding further. In truth, we don't have a picture of infinity in our mind, just as we don't have a picture in our mind of numbers as abstracts. I can picture 3 things, but not 3 itself. Why? Abstracts are basically rules.

    We've simply been trained, and our knowledge of how to use the term "infinity" was part of that training. Kinda like how a dog gets trained to sit, without ever having an intuition of sitting on command prior to its training. It doesn't need one to follow the carrot and avoid the stick, and neither do we.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2009
  9. FutureTrackStar

    FutureTrackStar Registered Member

    This is a definition of infinity? Hmm... umm... how many times should I go to step 2 to get infinity, and don't say "an infinite number of times"? Haha nice try. Because surely, going back to step 2 once gives X = 2. Going back to it 1000 times gives X = 1001. So, how many times (don't use infinity in your answer) should I go back to step 2 to get X = infinity?

    And really, did I ever say that infinity is indescribable or indefinable? Quite the contrary. infinity is Infinity; that which is unbounded.

    and ExpectedlyIronic... infinity is a rule? Hmm... does that mean that infinity is not a chair? If it does mean that, then you aren't talking about infinity, because infinity includes all things by its own definition. When you say "infinity is a rule" you are putting it in a box! But truly INFINITY CANNOT BE PUT IN A BOX! ITS INFINITE!
  10. FutureTrackStar

    FutureTrackStar Registered Member

    An example of infinity, without using a single word that's related to infinity:
    Step 1: X = 0
    Step 2: X = X + 1
    Step 3: Goto Step 2

    Really? That's infinity? Hmm... you forgot something. How many times should I go back to step 2 before infinity is found?

    Also, I never said infinity is indescribable or indefinable, quite the contrary. infinity is Infinity.

    And ExpectantlyIronic... Infinity is a rule? Are you claiming that infinity does not include a chair, and a dog, and a building? It's just a just a rule? Then you are talking about infinity. Infinity includes everything. As soon as you say that infinity is not a particular thing, you are no longer talking about infinity, you are putting infinity in a box. DON'T PUT INFINITY IN A BOX, BECAUSE TRULY IT CANNOT BE DONE!

    Now, you all have yet to answer my primary questions (please forgive me if I gave you the impression that my question is "what is infinity?"). I already know what infinity is, so stop telling me what infinity is. My questions are HOW, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, WHO questions, not WHAT questions. HOW do we have the concept of infinity in our mind? WHERE does the concept of infinity come from, and WHEN? WHY do we have this concept of infinity? WHO has this concept in their mind and WHO gave it to us? But... particularly answer the HOW question. Please... don't tell me what infinity is.
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