MATH 199: The Infinite

Note: If this course is being taught this semester, more information can be found at the course home page.

Cross Listed

CLA 199



This course is a prerequisite or co-requisite for



In this interdisciplinary seminar we will try to understand “the infinite”, one of the most fascinating and elusive concepts in human culture. It plays a vital role in biblical thought, ancient Greek philosophy and mysticism, scholastic theology, nineteenth century romantic literature, ancient and modern mathematics, and physics.

Topics covered

A small sample of the questions we will explore are:

  1. How is it possible to even think about the infinite?

  2. What does it mean for God to be infinite?

  3. The infinite or the finite, which is better, and why has the answer differed in different cultures?

Readings will be from numerous sources, including Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Aquinas, Nicholas of Cusa, Bruno, Newton, Berkeley, Blake, Wordsworth, Cantor, and Borges.

The course should fit well into various mathematics and humanities clusters.