“Corrupter of youth!”

I know that most of you don’t like Wikipedia, but how else am I likely to learn stories like this?

Cantor’s theory of transfinite numbers was originally regarded as so counter-intuitive – even shocking – that it encountered resistance from mathematical contemporaries such as Leopold Kronecker and Henri Poincaré[3]and later from Hermann Weyl and L. E. J. Brouwer, while Ludwig Wittgenstein raised philosophical objections. Cantor, a devout Lutheran,[4] believed the theory had been communicated to him by God.[5] Some Christian theologians (particularly neo-Scholastics) saw Cantor’s work as a challenge to the uniqueness of the absolute infinity in the nature of God[6] – on one occasion equating the theory of transfinite numbers with pantheism[7] – a proposition that Cantor vigorously rejected.

The objections to Cantor’s work were occasionally fierce: Henri Poincaré referred to his ideas as a “grave disease” infecting the discipline of mathematics,[8] and Leopold Kronecker‘s public opposition and personal attacks included describing Cantor as a “scientific charlatan”, a “renegade” and a “corrupter of youth.”[9]

One Response

  1. Why would anybody hate wikipedia? It has its problems, but its probably the greatest achievement of the 21st century.

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