The Infinite

  • David Dunér
Part of the Studies in the History of Philosophy of Mind book series (SHPM, volume 11)


The stars instil wonder, affording a presentiment of a divinity behind the order.‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork,’as we read in Psalm 19:1. It was determined that animals should walk prostrate, looking towards the ground, says Ovid, while it was granted to man to carry his head high and look up towards the heavens and the stars. ‘Let us lift our eyes up to the heavens and the stars; let us compare their measures, numbers, courses, harmony, times, tasks, and changes,’ Stiernhielm writes in Archimedes reformatus, as we see God’s wonderful construction and excellent work. If you take away the seas, marshes, and deserts, Boethius explains in a thought experiment, not much remains of the habitable world. Mankind is confined ‘in this tightly-enclosed and tiny point, itself but part of a point.’ We are like small, piteous worms on a little point in the universe,writesMersenne.A grain of sand could be as large as the whole earth since it would have as infinitely many parts, for one infinity is not greater than another. Heaven is ‘So immensely large that earth therewith compared / is like a little point drawn on the largest board,’ Spegel wrote in a poem. Tyge Brahe believed that there are stars which are as much as 90 times greater than Earth. Our globe, Block calculated, is a cabbage seed in comparison with the rest of the world. And for this little point we fight with fire and sword. Derham, citing Seneca, points out how ridiculous this is, when ‘above there are vast spaces, to whose possession the Mind is admitted.’


Medulla Oblongata Human Soul Natural Theology Cosmological Argument Cabbage Seed 
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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Dunér
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of History of Ideas and Sciences Centre for Cognitive SemioticsLund UniversityLundSweden

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