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A Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences

ISSN 1736-7514 (electronic)  ISSN 1406-0922 (print)
Published since 1997

A Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences

ISSN 1736-7514 (electronic)  ISSN 1406-0922 (print)
Published since 1997

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(Full article in PDF format) DOI: 10.3176/tr.2009.4.01


Rein Undusk


As part of an expected further investigation into the role of infinity in stimulating contacts among religion, knowledge, and art in Western culture, the article focuses on the change in the attitude to infinity occurring in Neoplatonism and early Christianity. The overcoming of the so-called disgust with infinity, characterizing the ancient thought, must be linked largely to two factors. First, Christian monotheism provided the means for channelling the monistic (and theological) undercurrent of ancient thought, which had secretly let it drift (in Platonism) towards the positive concept of ápeiron, while retaining simultaneously a wish to offer a rational and dialectically founded explication for the world. The fitting together of these divergent ends – theological and rational – was rendered possible by a second factor, by the specifically Christian, i.e. Trinitarian, concept of God. Assisted by the seminal studies of Pierre Hadot, the present article tries to elucidate the conceptual developments and mutations underlying the emergence of the new understanding of infinity in Christian culture.


infinity, Plato, Aristotle, Neoplatonism, Christianity, the Holy Trinity, existence, substance.


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