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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Toronto, 2006.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 68-01, Section: A, page: 0183.
This project examines the history of a metaphor---the infinite sphere, whose centre is everywhere and circumference is nowhere---and traces the progress of this symbol through a selection of citations between the twelfth and seventeenth centuries. The metaphor first appears in a pseudo-Hermetic treatise of the twelfth century, where it stands as one of twenty-four definitions of God. The initial chapters of this study consider the metaphor in its twelfth-century context and examine the ways in which the metaphor is invoked in meditative literature and in theological discussions to represent the nature of divine infinity. The thesis then addresses the changing conceptions of infinity which developed over the course of the fourteenth century following the Condemnations of 1277. Fourteenth-century discussions of infinite space and infinite quantities led to a dramatic re-conceptualization of the natural world. The thesis considers how these fourteenth-century speculations influenced Nicholas of Cusa's theories of cosmology and his original interpretation of the metaphor. Cusa is the first thinker to use the metaphor of the infinite sphere as a description of the universe. The concluding sections of the thesis consider the metaphor's afterlife in natural philosophy and examine how Giordano Bruno, Johannes Kepler and John Donne each respond to the infinite sphere and the infinite universe.