An Aristotelian approach to mathematical ontology

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The paper begins with an exposition of Aristotle’s own philosophy of mathematics. It is claimed that this is based on two postulates. The first is the embodiment postulate, which states that mathematical objects exist not in a separate world, but embodied in the material world. The second is that infinity is always potential and never actual. It is argued that Aristotle’s philosophy gave an adequate account of ancient Greek mathematics; but that his second postulate does not apply to modern mathematics, which assumes the existence of the actual infinite. However, it is claimed that the embodiment postulate does still hold in contemporary mathematics, and this is argued in detail by considering the natural numbers and the sets of ZFC.




Gillies, D. (2015). An Aristotelian approach to mathematical ontology. In Mathematics, Substance and Surmise: Views on the Meaning and Ontology of Mathematics (pp. 147–176). Springer International Publishing.

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