Leibniz on the Greatest Number and the Greatest Being

Ohad Nachtomy
2005 The Leibniz Review  
In notes from 1675-76 Leibniz is using the notion of an infinite number as an illustration of an impossible notion. In the same notes, he is also using this notion in contrast to the possibility of the 'Ens perfectissumum' (A.6.3 572; Pk 91; A.6.3 325). I suggest that Leibniz's concern about the possibility of the notion of 'the greatest or the most perfect being' is partly motivated by his observation that similar notions, such as 'the greatest number', are impossible. This leads to the
more » ... leads to the question 'how Leibniz convinced himself that the notion of the greatest number is self-contradictory and that of the greatest being is not. I consider two suggestions, one that stress the difference between beings and numbers and one that stress the difference between two notions of infinity, and conclude that neither of them provides a satisfactory solution to this question. The Leihniz Review, Vol. 15,2005 magnitude and to number, on the one hand, and an infinity that pertains to perfection and completeness, on the other. As I made clear, both attempts are less than satisfactory. Yet, I don't presently see a better way to defend Leibniz on this score. I leave it here therefore as a challenge for Leibniz's scholars.24
doi:10.5840/leibniz2005151 fatcat:fwgt4ilv4bfnppq7cl7r4znyky