To Infinity and Beyond Meaning
To infinity and beyond means the unbounded infinite. It’s unending and circular, like a never-ending list. It’s undefined. And yet, it still has meaning, at least in some way. Here are some ways to look at this concept. The first way is to realize that it is infinite.
What is the meaning of “To infinity and beyond?”
It appears to be a casual remark, but it has a profound philosophical meaning. It appears in pop culture and in casual conversations with friends. Just before the hallucinogenic “Star Gate” section in 2001: A Space Odissey, a title card appears, “Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite” (possible influence for Buzz?). Beyoncé sings in the tune Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It), “… and transports me to a destiny, to infinity and beyond.” Other albums include Juno Reactor’s Beyond the Infinite and Theo Angelopoulos’ Greek film Eternity and a Day. This sentence helped a parent and son survive a shipwreck in 2008. Not to mention infinity plus one! And the smooching lovers saying, “I love you infinity times and more.” There are certainly many more instances (and more!).
It sounds contradictory: how can you go beyond infinity? Because it is impossible to reach the end of infinity (because it is endless), how can it be surpassed? One must shift their perspective entirely: from prospective infinity to real infinity.
Let me return to the case of Achilles and the tortoise, which is where this blog began. The tortoise and Achilles are about 10 meters apart, with Achilles in the back. They flee. Achilles is significantly faster than the tortoise; thus, when Achilles arrives at the tortoise’s location, the tortoise only makes one meter. Achilles has sprinted that meter, and the tortoise is 10 cm ahead of him. And so on and so on. Will Achilles ever make it to the tortoise?
Representation of Infinity
We all know that’s impossible unless you’re Buzz Lightyear; you can’t go beyond what has no end. However, the representation of the infinite, or the reality of it, necessitates some extremely intricate logic.
In 1450, Nicholas of Cusa (c. 1401-1464), Bishop of Brixen (Bressanone, Italy), asserted in his De Docta Ignorantia (“On Learned Ignorance”) that wisdom rests in the finite human mind’s inability to comprehend God’s infinite, in whom all opposites are blended. According to Cusa, the cosmos could not have a geometric core because this point would have to be perfect. And he claimed that perfection could only be found in God. Nothing tangible, certainly not Earth, could be the center for Cusa. Only God, in His infinite perfection, could be both the center and the perimeter of everything that exists.
The idea that space could spread in all directions to infinity was horrifying. The man was far better served in a warm cocoon, encircled by and centered on God. Cusa’s geometric depiction of God was ultimately a metaphor for the infinite. Accepting an unlimited universe meant giving up God’s power.
The word “infinity” has a plethora of connotations, including unboundedness, formlessness, and undefinedness. Pythagoras, the famous Greek mathematician, believed that every aspect of the world could be expressed in whole numbers, but his work showed that the diagonal and the side of a square could not be expressed as a unit.
It’s like a list that never ends
Infinity is like a never-ending list. How many numbers would you count if you could go on counting forever? Zeno once said that you could never travel halfway between two points – you would always be at the same place. In other words, if you started at the beginning, you would never reach your destination.
A circular scale frees us from the belief that some scales of size and complexity are bigger than others. For example, a six-o’clock news broadcast is not more important than an atom or galaxy. Social pressures often make us feel that society’s concerns are more important than our own, but this assumption is false. In a circular scale, all size scales are equal.