Marco Giovanelli
Università di Torino
The article attempts to reconsider the relationship between Leibniz’s and Kant’s philosophy of geometry on the one hand and the nineteenth century debate on the foundation of geometry on the other. The author argues that the examples used by Leibniz and Kant to explain the peculiarity of the geometrical way of thinking are actually special cases of what the Jewish-German mathematician Felix Hausdorff called “transformation principle”, the very same principle that thinkers such as Helmholtz or Poincaré applied in a more general form in their celebrated philosophical writings about geometry. The first two parts of the article try to show that Leibniz’s and Kant’s philosophies of geometry, despite their differences, appear to be preoccupied with the common problem of the impossibility to grasp conceptually the intuitive difference between two figures (such as a figure and its scaled, displaced or mirrored copy). In the third part, it is argued that from the perspective of Hausdorff’s philosophical-geometrical reflections, this very same problem seems to find a more radical application in Helmholtz’s or Poincaré’s thought experiments on the impossibility of distinguishing distorted copies of our universe from the original one. I draw the conclusion that in Hausdorff’s philosophical work, which has received scholarly attention only recently, one can find not only an original attempt to frame these classical arguments from a set-theoretical point of view, but also the possibility of considering the history of philosophy of geometry from an uncommon perspective, where especially the significance of Kant’s infamous appeal to “intuition” can be judged by more appropriate standards
Keywords Ähnlichkeit  Hausdorff  Inkongruente Gegenstücke  Kant  Kongruenz  Leibniz  Nicht-Euklidische Geometrie  Congruence  Hausdorff  Incongruent counterparts  Kant  Leibniz  Non-Euclidean geometry  Similarity
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Reprint years 2011
DOI 10.1007/s10838-010-9139-4
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Kant and the Exact Sciences.Michael Friedman - 1990 - Harvard University Press.
Reconsidering Logical Positivism.Michael Friedman - 1999 - Cambridge University Press.

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