Talk:Georg Cantor/Archive 1

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Russian or German?

E.T.Bell in Men of Mathematics says that Cantor was born in St. Petersburg but moved to Frankfurt, Germany in 1956. "From this medley of nationalities it is possible for several fatherlands to claim Cantor as their son. Cantor himself favored Germany, but it cannot be said that Germany favored him very cordially." (MoM, 1937, p.558-559.

I can see something wrong here: "...was a German mathematician who is..." and "...He was born in Saint Petersburg Russia, the..."

he was german or russian? he born in russia, but why does he apear like german in some online documents?. i'm researching for spanish version and can't find a safe exit to this.--Arias Levhita 22:14, Jul 15, 2004 (UTC)

Nationality was not as well defined in Cantor's day as it is in ours. For example, most European nations did not even issue passports! Cantor was born in Russia of a Russian mother. But her name was German, and her religion, Roman Catholic, was rather anomalous for Russia. Georg's father was of Danish (and ultimately Jewish) origin. Cantor was given an impeccable German name. The family had no difficulty in moving to Germany, if only because there was no German national authority in 1856. Georg spoke and wrote perfect German, and so was completely accepted by the German educational system. I have never read that Cantor experienced subtle prejudice because he was felt not to be truly German. 19th century north Germany was culturally very far from the Third Reich, an Austrian and south German invention. In my opinion, Cantor's career was a fairly distinguished one, more distinguished than Frege's at Jena, for example. Cantor wanted more than what fate handed to him, but perhaps that says more about Cantor's very high opinion of himself than about the alleged smugness of his fellow German mathematicians. Note that Kronecker's death in 1891 led to no improvement in Cantor's career, mainly because by then he was largely finished as a creative mathematician.

Cantor wrote in German and knew French well. Otherwise, he was a fine cultured cosmopolitan northern European, free of ugly nationalism. We can all take him for what he was, and celebrate that. 23:55, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

On Cantors nationality

Cantors mother was of Austrian descent, his father was raised in a German Lutheran mission in St. Petersburg. Both parents spoke German and their children were raised in a German cultural environment (which was no problem at that time when aggressive nationalism was still far away, e.g. the foreign policy of the Russian Empire was guided by Karl Nesselrode, a Baltic German baron as foreign minister and chancellor of Russia for almost forty years between 1816 and 1856).

Cantor himself wrote 1896:

Thatsache ist allein folgendes:
Mein seliger, im Iahre 1863, in Deutschland verstorbener Vater Georg Woldemar Cantor kam als Kind mit seiner Mutter nach St. Petersburg und wurde dort alsdald lutherisch getauft. Er ist aber in Kopenhagen (ich weiss nicht genau in welchem Iahre, etwa zwischen 1810-15) geboren, von israelitischen Eltern, die der dortigen portugisischen Iudengemeinde angehoerten und daher hoechstwahrscheinlich spanisch-portugisischen Ursprungs waren.
Meine Mutter, Marie Cantor, geb. Boehm, die jetzt seit 1863 in Berlin lebt, ist eine geborene Petersburgerin, gehoert einer roemisch-katholischen Familie an, die aus Oesterreich stammt. Mein Grossvater muetterlicherseits Franz Boehm war Kaiserl. Russ. Concertmeister und Violinvirtuose in St. Petersburg; auch dessen Frau, meine Grossmutter Maria Boehm, geb. Morawek war Violinvirtuosin.
Fact is the following:
My late father Georg Woldemar Cantor, who passed away in Germany in 1863, came to St. Petersburg as a child together with his mother and was baptized in Lutheran church there. He was born in Copenhagen (I do not know the exact date, approximately between 1810-15) to Jewish parents who were members of the Portuguese Jewish community and hence were most likely of Spanish-Portuguese descent.
My mother, Marie Cantor, nee Boehm, who is living in Berlin since 1863, is born in St. Petersburg and is a member of a Roman Catholic family descending from Austria. My grandfather on the mother's side Franz Boehm was Imperial Russian Concertmaster and a virtuoso on the violin in St. Petersburg; his wife, my grandmother Maria Boehm, nee Morawek, was also a violin virtuoso.

(sorry for the imperfect translation)

Furfur 12 June 2006 (CET)

I welcome any correction of my rewrite BY EXPERTS.

I invite anyone expert in foundational mathematics to go through "Work" carefully, and to make any required changes. 23:45, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

Did Cantor have all that hard a life?

There is so much talk at the Eric Temple Bell level of the frustrations and indignities Cantor experienced. Yet the more I read about Cantor, the more I doubt he was all that hard done by. I have formulated a working hypothesis about his personality: he was one of those academics who deemed the rejection of his papers by an editor or referee as a personal insult and intolerable indignity. We academics all know the type! Moreover Cantor:

  • Grew up in a wealthy family. Because he inherited from his father when he was 18, Cantor was able to raise a family of 6 on a meagre academic salary; had 2 sons and four daughters, although the names of his children are no where to be found.
  • Made full professor by age 34 (for 19th century Germany, that was quite soon in life);
  • Enjoyed the friendship and support of Dedekind. And sometimes Weierstrass helped Cantor;
  • Founded the Mathematische Verein in 1890 and was elected its first president. An obvious mark of respect;
  • Enjoyed the friendship and respect of Edmund Husserl, his colleague at Halle, 1886-1901.
  • His mother and youngest brother died in 1899

I have just read that nothing has been found in Kronecker's personal papers bearing out Cantor's belief that Kronecker was conducting a personal vendetta against him. That Cantor despised Kronecker is amply attested to by Cantor's letters to, e.g., Mittag-Leffler.

When Kronecker died in 1891, he sank into near-oblivion and remained there until Errett Bishop's 1967 book showed that constructive real analysis is possible. Meanwhile, Cantor's reputation has walked on air. Of how many can it be said that their posthumous reputations are crowned in glory in a Paradise of their own invention? Was Cantor alive when Hilbert spoke his awesome sentence?

All in all, a sunnier life than Frege's in nearby Jena. As for obtaining a better job than Halle, Cantor's nervous breakdown of 1884, and the resulting permanent reduction of his mathematical productivity made it understandable that he could not find another job. throughout hitory, many are the geniuses who spend their entire careers at provincial universities. Look at Dedekind, Peano. 19:06, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

It's funny how you all seem to accept that as long as Cantor's problems were "in his head", he wasn't really hard-done-by and it was his own fault. THINK about it - a stable, productive and powerful mind is just as much a richesse as strong sinews or a large inheritance. (talk) 18:13, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Limitation of size

The recent changes are generally well-written and useful, but unfortunately perpetuate the common misconceptions about "naive set theory" and "axiomatic set theory" discussed at Talk:Naive set theory. Something needs to be done about the following problematic passage:

In any event, these two paradoxes, along with Russell's paradox, are why Cantor's approach to set theory, now termed "naive," has been superseded by the axiomatic set theory of Zermelo and others.

In fact, the modern interpretation of set theory in the von Neumann universe does not need to be thought of axiomatically, and it is not at all clear that Russell's paradox attaches to Cantor's conception of set (though it definitely attaches to Frege's). Cantor certainly did not have (or at least did not publish) a clear picture like the von Neumann universe, but he did have a concept, called limitation of size, capable of blocking the paradoxes. Unfortunately I don't know much about the concept in detail, but it should at least be mentioned, rather than leaving the impression that Cantor did nothing but leave a mess that Zermelo had to clean up. --Trovatore 23:34, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

Fact check needed

I need someone to check me on the time frame in which Cantor formulated limitation of size. Was it really after the discovery of Cantor's paradox, as my text in the article implies? Once this is resolved, please remove the following code from the "Work" section of the article:

<sup>''[[Talk:Georg Cantor#Limitation of size|fact check needed]]''</sup>

Thanks, Trovatore 04:18, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Actually I also need someone to check the originator of the idea. I don't have Hallett's book, but from what I could find by browsing it at amazon, it looks like the idea, or at least the phrase, may have come from Jourdain. But "inconsistent multiplicities" is still Cantor's terminology, isn't it? Does someone have a reference for his meaning for that phrase? --Trovatore 06:22, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
I think it's at least mentioned in Potter's "The Philosophy of Set Theory" and in Boolos "Logic, Logic and Logig" -- I'll look into it Zero sharp 04:49, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

A Question

A curious and ignorant reader - myself - was also puzzled by the question of Cantor's Jewishness. There is the name and the use of the Hebrew alphabet in apparent conflict with the historical geneaology. I see now that it is a "good question" and I wish to post some speculation / further questioning. Cantor evidently had an Ego. Is it possible; anywhere hinted; that he used the Hebrew alphabet in an attempt to set his theory alongside the earliest, most fundamental, creations of arithmetic? Hebrew being the oldest recognizable language; Egyptian hieroglyphics and ancient Sumerian being a little too old ? ?--Therealhrw 06:59, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

Cantor's Jewish heritage again

An anon has deleted the notation that the name Cantor is Jewish, claiming in the edit summary that it isn't always Jewish. Maybe that's so, I don't know. But I think in Cantor's specific case, his Jewish ancestry is established; Dauben quotes a letter (as I recall) in which he talks about his israelitische grandparents. If the anon is right that the name is not always Jewish, then the point needs rephrasing, but should not just be removed.

Does anyone know of a surname Cantor that doesn't come from a Jewish background? If so, just how should we rephrase? --Trovatore 03:38, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

Cantor is also German, French, Hungarian, Czech, and Polish in origin. Transliterations from "Kantor" and "Canter" both of which don't have Jewish ties. We're relying too much on the discussions of to know for sure if Cantor's father was a Sephardic Jew. For one thing, "Cantor" (when taken in a Jewish senese) is Ashkenazic in origin, not Sephardic. Also, the only evidence (anywhere for that matter) that Cantor's father may have been Jewish is from a letter he wrote (it should be noted, the actual letter is written with some poetic intent) where he used the wording: "meine israelitischen Grosseltern" or "my Israelite ancestry". It truly makes no sense why Cantor, who's wife was Jewish, would be so secretive about his own Jewish ancestry to be so vague about it. Why use such wording as "israelite" instead of "juden" or 'Jewish'? From that small quote, an author derived the following translation:

(George Woldemar Cantor) he is there however in _ Copenhagen _ (I white not exactly in which Iahre, approximately between 1810-15) born, from _ Israeli parents _, who the there _ portugisischen Iudengemeinde belonged _ and was most likely therefore _ Spanish portugisischen _ origin.

Notice how it is based completely on assumption that Cantor's father is portuguese Jewish.

Other the other hand, the evidence against Cantor's father being Jewish is much more "official":

More often the question has been discussed of whether Georg Cantor was of Jewish origin. About this it is reported in a notice of the Danish genealogical Institute in Copenhagen from the year 1937 concerning his father: "It is hereby testified that Georg Woldemar Cantor, born 1809 or 1814, is not present in the registers of the Jewish community, and that he completely without doubt was not a Jew ...")


Also efforts for a long time by the librarian Josef Fischer, one of the best experts on Jewish genealogy in Denmark, charged with identifying Jewish professors, that Georg Cantor was of Jewish descent, finished without result.

I think sources from an official genealogical institute and research from famous librarian on Danish0Jewish genealogy are slightly more reliable than a subjectively interpreted quote. 17:54, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

Hm, efforts to figure out who was Jewish, in 1937 Denmark? I don't know the exact circumstances, but that seems a little suspicious on its face. Maybe someone wanted to protect Cantor's children, or set theory itself, from the looming Nazi menace? --Trovatore 06:43, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

It is odd if Cantor was wrong about his father, and odder that if the case is so clear-cut, it has been ignored by the Encyclopaedia Judaica. Certainly Cantor's work was attacked by the Nazis as Jewish mathematics.--Brownlee 10:08, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Was it? Is there a reference for this? Nonetheless, we can't assume that the Danish genealogical society was secretive of Cantor's Judaism. Cantor never explicitly said he was Jewish. 04:41, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

I am reverting the last edit by Anon. Wikipedia policy is to report what sources say. It is quite unacceptable to delete valid sources. It is particularly important to note that one of the Jewish Chronicle refs dats from Cantor's lifetime; this shows that he was regarded as Jewish during his lifetime as well as decades later. It is original research to speculate why the Jewish Chronicle and Encyclopaedia Judaica say that Cantor was Jewish; all Wikipedia should do is record that they do.--Brownlee 13:09, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Quoting each source is superfluous as it is very well established that numerous places refer to Cantor as of Jewish descent. However, you make an excellent point about the Jewish Chronicle reference and I have since amplified that quote. Also, nobody is speculating why Jewish Chronicle, Encyclopedia Judaica, and several notable biographers state that Cantor was of Jewish descent, it is established by the very first emergence of his quote, as Cantor never said he was Jewish outside of that letter and no genealogical research has provided conclusive results. So unless the soures made it up, which we know they couldn't have, they derived it from the first interpretation of the quote. This has been detailed in the note. 09:37, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Why was the Jewish Chronicle saying it in Cantor's lifetime, before that letter was published?--Brownlee 17:57, 11 August 2006 (UTC) The letter was written in 1896, only the book we use as a reference now (correspondences with Tannery) was published in the 1930s, as probably all other copies of the letter aren't available. Plus I doubt the letter was published purely because it hinted at Cantor's Jewish ancestry but rather because it had other relevant information amongst the professors. 19:15, 11 August 2006 (UTC)


Just because the Jewish Chronicle and other less-reliable quotations incorrectly and unambiguously call Cantor "Jewish" evidently without bothering to provide the details which concern not him but his father, doesn't mean we should utilize them blindly. For one thing, despite Cantor being half Danish we don't bother to categorize Cantor in Danish mathematicians (and yes, sources incorrectly call him Danish too) and appropriately so as Cantor had a dominant association with Germany all his life and none to Denmark. For precedent and comparison, we could say that Cantor's dominant association with Christianity and complete lack of mention of Judaism should suggest something similarly. Nonetheless, as its for some reason a touchy subject, the complete removal of any Christian or Jewish categories would solve the problem 04:58, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

That isn't how Wikipedia works. We apply WP:V and WP:NOR. If sources as reputable as the Jewish Chronicle and the Encyclopaedia Judaica say that someone is Jewish, we are entitled to say so in Wikipedia. Unsourced assertions that he was not should be ignored.--Newport 20:02, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
The Encyclopaedia Judaica says he was Jewish? That's definitely a reputable source. Mad Jack 20:37, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
From WP:RS quote "While reputable and reliable have considerable overlap, one is not a substitute for the other." Furthermore, Encyclopedia Judaica doesn't "SAY" anything. It, at best, makes a quote concerning Cantor and him being Jewish and the user who has access should promptly have linked or recited the quote. Simply being IN Encyclopedia Judaica is not the same as a reliable source stating "Georg Cantor is without a doubt Jewish." Isn't it true that completely non-Jewish people are in Encyclopedia Judaica too? Also "However, while reliability is to some extent fungible, peer reviewed publications make errors, professional publications vary widely in quality and have their own POVs and other sources have to be evaluated based on the particular assertion." Furthermore, all of what is stated above is explanation enough for removal of any categories referring to Cantor as "Christian" "Lutheran" "Jewish" "Danish" etc. 04:45, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
Well I have no access to the Encyclopedia Judaica so I don't know. But if it says "Cantor is/was/etc. Jewish" that would seem reliable. BTW, why are we linking to a Wikipedia article called Christians in Science? If that article has a source that Cantor is Christian, then that's the source we need to use here Mad Jack 07:49, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

Encyclopaedia Judaica says very explicitly that Cantor was Jewish; if you check the history of the article, you will find that Brownlee added the citation some time ago[1]. It was then deleted by the anon editor, so I fail to understand why he criticises other editors for not putting in what we did put in and he deleted. I stress that the Jewish Chronicle was explicitly calling him Jewish in his lifetime, before the publication of the cited letter. No source acceptable under WP:V has yet been produced that could disprove these explicit quotes from reliable sources.--Newport 20:00, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

It's pretty evident that I asked for the citation here in talk where it can be discussed and not superfluously on the article, where the Jewish Chronicle quotation is well more than enough. I could plaster sources stating Cantor's Christianity all over the face of the article but that would just make me WP:POINTish. Here [2] here [3] here [4]. But these only tell half the story, just like the places that call him a "Jew". We have information that tells the whole story and for some reason that is to be completely ignored. I find it unfavorable how the - apparently many - users who have access to Judaica Encyclopedia fail to be clear about what it says or whats in it. Questions that have yet to be answered for those of us who don't keep Encyclopedia Judaica in our home libraries: Is there a separate article for Georg Cantor? Does Encyclopedia Judaica only make articles for Jewish people? From what article is this quotation taken from? What further things does it say in reference to Cantor and his religion/ancestry?
Furthermore, why is it that Jewish ancestry is so much more important to list than any other ancestry? Nobody is arguing so vehemently about the other categories that could realistically be added to Cantor's article. Um Danish? Category:Danish mathematicians [5], [6] Russian? Category:Russian mathematicians [7] [8] Wasn't it once argued in List of Czech Jews that being Russian-born is the same thing as being Russian? If we want to go purely be ancestral descent as an enumerable amount of Jewish categorization does then why don't we put Cantor in Category:Austrian mathematicians? After all, that WAS his mother's nationality. More relevantly, why isn't anyone passionately vying for these categories to be added. Hell there are references hosted by "reputable" sites that say some of this information! The case is simple. We have gathered the facts from some research that he was German of a Danish-born father and Austrian-Catholic descented mother. His father's ancestry is in question. It could be that he was of Jewish ancestry. All this information is clearly stated on the article and should be left at that. What some reputable sources say may not be reliable. There's an infinite (how appropriate for Cantor) debate on Copernicus's ancestry revolving around reputable sources from both sides stating German or Polish. Appropriately no categories are allowed for one or the other as the truth is simply unknown. Equivalently the truth of Cantor's Jewish ancestry is unknown and has been speculative until now. Anyway, I stress that Jewish Chronicle published this information almost 6 years after it was written in a letter and the publishings that Newport? refers to were of Tannery's Correspondences which happens to hold the letter in question and is the only published book with the letter we have access to. Sorry to say that point is pretty much moot by now. Jewish Chronicle, to my knowledge, is one of the first newspaper. And with any such information, yellow journalism is easily on the prowl. Such places have a singular thing to report on. So if there's any possibility that by partial ancestry Cantor was Jewish, why wouldn't the Chronicle call him a "Jew?" It is their position and speciality, and any news magazine includes sensationalism to report what readers want to read. Nobody is demanding the category Category:German Lutherans and so there's no reason to do the same for Category:German Jews. Nothing's being censored by doing this. All the information is pretty clear on the article. Simply, keep Cantor away from any categories that are dubious as is done in many other articles. 06:15, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

This is absurd. Obviously, the place for a source that Cantor was Jewish is in the article, to justify the statement. Had Anon not obliterated this key reference, anyone could have seen it. In fact, it is essential to cite recent references. They prove that despite the (unsourced) claims by Anon that it was said in the 1930s that Cantor was not Jewish, reliable sources still say that he was. Anon has yet to explain how he knows better than these reliable sources. It is irrelevant whether the Encyclopaedia Judaica has an article on Cantor (it does not). It does clearly state that he was Jewish, and as Anon knows the exact citation is in the reference he deleted. I am not saying that Jewishness is more important than other ethnicity. If equally reliable sources can be produced saying explicitly that he was say Danish, this should be reported. I am saying that it violates WP:V, WP:NPOV and WP:NOR to delete material from reputable sources.--Brownlee 11:41, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

I have since sourced my "unsourced" claims that Cantor was said not to be of Jewish parentage in the 1930s or rather...that any researh into the question was inconclusive. The most reputable sources are certainly Cantor's biographers and the debate over him BEING Jewish is about as never-ending as the debate on Copernicus for the simple fact that WE DON'T KNOW for sure. No, it is not irrelevant if Encyclopedia Judaica has an article or doesn't. If it had an article it could perhaps tells us all the information it gathered and give us even more references. It is sufficiently written in this article everything we know about Cantor and the possibility of his father being descended from Sephardic Jews. How this automatically turns the staunch Lutheran into a "German Jew" when he's not even listed as a "German Lutheran" is beyond me. You can argue that its because his ancestry was Jewish. His ancestry was also Austrian and possibly Dutch. Why isn't anyone pushing for those categories then? 21:13, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

Categories, bis

Wikipedia policy is very clear. There are good sources that describe him as Jewish, so he should be placed in the relevant categories. If there are good sources that describe him as Chinese, then equally he should be put in category Chinese mathematicians. Any other policy would violate WP:V, WP:NOR and WP:V. Cantor is in 12 categories; many articles have far more categories.--Runcorn 21:07, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

And what with the good sources that say he wasn't? We make a category called Category:Germans who may have not been Jewish. No. Firstly, there is a overflow of sources that debate anything concerning Cantor's ancestry and label it as dubious. We ignore these? Secondly, the vast majority only refer to his parentage as Jewish and not him, and finally, when so much information is unknown, we pull a Copernicus and not attribute any such categorizations. Try pushing Category:German astronomers on the Copernicus article. 21:12, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
If there are several people explicitly described as "Germans who may have not been Jewish", maybe we should have a category for them; that is up to editors. But it is more likely that Cantor will be described as say Lutheran, in which case of course put him in category Lutheran mathematicians. There is no problem in having someone in more than one category, just as a Jew born in Germany who moved to Britain may legitimately be in category German Jews and category British Jews. Nw please, let's all abide by Wikipedia policy.--Runcorn 21:20, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
First of all, Wikipedia policy is what the community comes to a consensus about. Part of this citation consensus is the categorization of people by what THEY are and not what they would be via lineage. It's possible, and as of yet subject to debate, whether Cantor was Jewish AT ALL by descent. If he was, there's still the question of is Cantor himself Jewish or simply part of his family Jewish. Any places that call Cantor "Jewish" while others claim he never identified as such are in conflict with eachother, and we do not report both any more than we would report to separate birth dates equally. The entire question is well outlined in the article. 21:27, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Not quite the case. 3 policies are non-negotiable: WP:NOR, WP:NPOV, WP:VERIFY. You're Jewish if you have a Jewish mother - is that not so? Under WP:NPOV if there are two conflicting verifiable sources, then you do indeed report both, giving weight as appropriate if there is a majority and a minority view. Tyrenius 01:00, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
Well, but the argument doesn't seem to be about the text, but about categories. It's not possible to put an article both in a category and not in the category. Also, no policy requires an article to discuss every possible aspect of its subject. Cantor's supposed Jewishness, or lack thereof, does not seem to have been a very important fact in his life, either to him or to his contemporaries. In my opinion entirely too much time has gone into discussing it.
In the text of the article, some brief mention might be appropriate, given that the question does seem to come up with some regularity. As to the categories, please everyone get off his high horse about policies, and just pick something, if necessary by a vote. --Trovatore 01:13, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
I agree. I don't think it should be put in a category, unless it can be categorically proved. It would seem to be advisable to have something in the text. Tyrenius 02:25, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
Come on, people, this is getting embarrassing.
"Did you hear there's an edit war over at Georg Cantor?"
"Oh, probably people arguing about the existence of completed infinites? Or his ongoing dispute with Kronecker?"
"No, it's religion."
"Oh, his ideas on the absolute infinite, or about mathematical objects existing in the mind of God?"
"Nope, whether he was Jewish."
This is not important enough to risk the status of this important article (good articles aren't supposed to have ongoing edit wars, I think). Please just have a vote and accept the results. --Trovatore 21:29, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
There appears to be an ongoing attempt at this pinning of Jewishness to people who, quite possibly, would be surprised themselves at this categorization. If the person is Jewish and identifies as such, thats fine. A common brand of sentence is appearing in these articles: "BlAH made many mathematical contributions to numerical science and was a huge advocate or rights for babies. Oh, by the way, his grandfather was Jewish."
We need to distinguish what is footnote material and what is important. What Thomas Edison's grandfather's nationality was not and is not important and doesn't change what his life and work meant. Clearly, Lutheranism was important to Georg Cantor and so it was mentioned briefly, and a WAY WAY TOO BIG footnote is on this page discussing the possibility of his father being Jewish, pretending it somehow matters in the long run. So, yes, I concur completely with Trovatore. Devote the article to something more useful. LaGrange 21:55, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

There appears to be an ongoing attempt to deny the Jewish ancestry of important people. According to many good sources, Cantor was Jewish or had jewish ancestry; he seems to have said as much himself. It is totally contrary to Wikipedia policy to remove references to these good sources.--Brownlee 09:33, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Remove references to these good sources? Whats going on now? This sentence is not entirely verifiable "Cantor is often described as Jewish during his life and afterwards." (or however it was put) Uhm, no he's not. Most places that say anything say his father was Jewish. And apparently there's a reference listed here from the early 20th century. He was still alive but near the end of his life, yes. But how does that one place tell us "he was often described as Jewish during his lifetime"?? Most importantly this analysis material shouldn't be on this page at all. I would be for removing the entire footnote, but if it has to be here, put all such sentences THERE. So, for example, you could put "Some places call Cantor Jewish entirely." whatever, though its plugging up the already way too big footnote. LaGrange 16:30, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Deny the Jewish ancestry? Not defining somebody by whether or not his father or mother had been brought up in a particular religion is not the same as stating that none of his ancestors were ever Jewish. I mean - would this last statement be true of anybody whatsoever, save for sixteenth-century hunter-gatherers in Australia? Bellbird 14:54, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

To be clear: the removal of Jewish categories will not effect the cataloguing of everybody noteworthy as an Aryan. Rather, it will make clear that cataloguing people by blood is something we do not do, period. (If only nobody ever did it!) Bellbird 14:57, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

The ending

Considering that a plurality of mathematicians consider set theory to underpin (most of) modern mathematics, the last paragraph of the main body, in "Work" section, which begins by stating that "Cantor's work did attract favorable notice beyond" Hilbert, seems to be a vast underestimate. Without unduly glorifying Cantor, I think we need to end the section more appropriately. —vivacissamamente 20:13, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

GA Re-Review and In-line citations

Note: This article has a small number of in-line citations for an article of its size and subject content. Currently it would not pass criteria 2b.
Members of the Wikipedia:WikiProject Good articles are in the process of doing a re-review of current Good Article listings to ensure compliance with the standards of the Good Article Criteria. (Discussion of the changes and re-review can be found here). A significant change to the GA criteria is the mandatory use of some sort of in-line citation (In accordance to WP:CITE) to be used in order for an article to pass the verification and reference criteria. It is recommended that the article's editors take a look at the inclusion of in-line citations as well as how the article stacks up against the rest of the Good Article criteria. GA reviewers will give you at least a week's time from the date of this notice to work on the in-line citations before doing a full re-review and deciding if the article still merits being considered a Good Article or would need to be de-listed. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us on the Good Article project talk page or you may contact me personally. On behalf of the Good Articles Project, I want to thank you for all the time and effort that you have put into working on this article and improving the overall quality of the Wikipedia project. Agne 06:03, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Third opinion

The editor who has consistently refused to allow Cantor's Jewish ancestry to be recorded properly recently asked for a Wikipedia:Third opinion in another context. I asked the third opinion editor to look at this article, too. He responded on my talk page:

In the case of Georg Cantor, his Jewishness may be relevant, in which case insisting otherwise would indeed a violation of WP:NPOV. However, if there are sourced disagreements on that point (and the sources are reliable, even if obscure) then I think the disagreement deserves to be mentioned while keeping the relevant assertion in place - thereby displeasing all points of view equally. :-) -Amatulic 22:01, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

I have edited in accordance with his advice. - Newport 22:40, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

More Portuguese Jewish descent?

I have removed the sentence "A minority of sources state they are not Jewish" for two reasons. First, it is untrue. No one should stack up secondary sources against tertiary ones. There is not a minority of secondary sources stating that the Cantor family is not Jewish. In fact, in addition to the primary source of Fischer and the Copenhagen Ancestry, several secondary sources, specifically one by Ivor Grattan-Guinness, write that Cantor's Jewish ancestry has been "assumed" too easily by publications, and that there is not significant evidence to state of any Jewish ancestry in generations of Cantor's antecedents. The second is because the comment is a wikipedia-user comment into a biographical article.

I also removed the categories of Jews from Cantor's article. There is no reason to assume the biographers that state Cantor isn't Jewish are more right than those that state he is. Most actually say "of Jewish ancestry" or "Jewish ancestors" which leads to the question of how far back? Would Portuguese categories be rightful too then? Amir Anczel, a proponent of some sort of Jewish theory in mathematics, identified Georg Woldemar Cantor's father's parents as Jewish by stating "Cantor and Meiers are common Jewish names," overlooking the commonality of "Meiers" in Denmark and the fact that another Danish academic shares a name "Cantor. "Which such assumptiveness, it cannot be told what it true and what is not!

I have also adjusted the comments on List of Lutherans as Jewish geenetical history is unimportant to the Lutheran religion itself. It has no effect. ----Tellerman.

The bottom line is that Cantor himself said that his grandparents, and hence his father, were Jewish. That justifies these categories. If Cantor were still alive, it would violate WP:BLP to deny his own clear statement. We should grant him the courtesy of believing him. No, the category "Portuguese" is far too remote to be applicable. Just because Amir Anczel's work may be flawed, there is no reason to overrule the other evidence.
Incidentally, why is he in the category "People with bipolar disorder"? What's the evidence? - Newport 19:44, 25 November 2006 (UTC)
Good point on bipolar disorder. I actually haven't read this anywhere. I will remove the category. But why do you think he is Jewish when most historians don't even know for sure? How do you know the Portuguese is more remote than the Jewish? Cantor did not say HE was Jewish so if he was alive this wouldn't be denying him a rightful categorization. His families anti-semitic remarks actually indicate he might not even appreciate this. He said his grandparents were "Israelite" or moreso that he had Israelite grandparents. Not even professional researchers can say without hesitation this means they were Jewish. "Isrealite" refers to the religion, so are we certain they were Jewish by ethnicity? No, despite how unlikely. ----Tellerman
By the way, I found the following "This recurrent depression would probably be diagnosed as bipolar disorder today" in reference to Cantor's bipolar disorder. I think it is wrong to categorize this man as a sufferer of a disease we are only assuming he has. ----Tellerman

Tellerman: perhaps you did not read further up this page. There has just been a Wikipedia:Third opinion about these categories. Please do not flout this opinion. "Jewish mathematicians" is not a category just for practising Jews but also for people of Jewish descent. If you wish to label him as Portuguese as well, you are free to do so.--Runcorn 22:46, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

OK I have read it, but I cannot see where it says that Georg Cantor should be categorized as Jewish. From what I read "However, if there are sourced disagreements on that point (and the sources are reliable, even if obscure) then I think the disagreement deserves to be mentioned while keeping the relevant assertion in place - thereby displeasing all points of view equally. :-)" it only says the disagreement deserves to be mentioned, which it is very extensively and that all POV should be displeased equally. How does ignoring the sources that say Cantor is not Jewish and categorized him as a German Jew displease the POV that he is totally Jewish? ----Tellerman

Keeping the relevant assertion in place means keeping the categories. The other sources are not ignored; the disagreement is featured prominently.--Runcorn 23:12, 25 November 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry. How does "keeping the relevant assertion in place" mean "keep the categories"? Isn't that your interpretation of what he said? "Keepung the relevant assertion in place" means not dismissing his Jewish origins or non-Jewish origins. Which is not being done. ----Tellerman

Also above the third opinion someone wrote "Well, but the argument doesn't seem to be about the text, but about categories. It's not possible to put an article both in a category and not in the category."

I agree. "Keeping the relevant assertion in place" means making mention of the theorires of his Jewish origins AND of his non-Jewish origins. That is done. But putting him into a Jewish category is breaking the truce between those who say he is Jewish and those who say he is not because we can't have him IN a Jewish category and not in one at the same time as far as I know. Can we? ----Tellerman By the same argument, you can't delete the categories because this would break the truce. Please feel free to contact User:Amatulic to discuss further.--Runcorn 23:47, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

No it wouldn't. Not being in a Jewish category doesn't mean the figure in question isn't Jewish. For example, Cantor doesn't have an "Danish" category though his father was a Dane. I'd say 90% of people of mixed ancestral distant don't have categories to represent both halves, but that doesn't mean they aren't whatever half isn't represented. Does that mean Cantor wasn't part Danish? But we are actually only talking about his family's descent. OK, I will ask Amatulic. ----Tellerman

Please wait until we have the third opinion, as agreed. Anything else would violate WP:Point. --Runcorn 12:35, 26 November 2006 (UTC)


I have been away for 2 weeks and just got back, and found an email (and a message on my talk page) asking that I come here and clarify what I was quoted as saying in the third opinion section above. First, let me say that I am no authority, I'm just offering my opinion as someone who has no knowledge of the subject of this article. I honestly hadn't considered the question of categories.

Speaking personally, I have a friend whose father is American Jewish, mother was German Catholic. My friend follows a different path; he would vehemently object to being categorized as Jewish, Catholic, or German ("New Age German American" might be a better fit for him). If a biography were written about him, categorizing him as Jewish would simply be incorrect. In that sense, I am skeptical about the correctness of categorizing someone solely by his parentage. Would Cantor himself mind being categorized as Jewish? How much does a person's heritage have to be mixed before a category no longer applies?

as a Jewish my self,who have family members at the united states which are from mixed origin (i.e ,jewish mother/father and non jewish father/mother)I am strongly against the suggestion that people which had only jewish father can be categorize as Jewish ,the mother side is much more important for the child identity most of the ever ,if a non Jewish of a Jewsih ancestry considerd himself as a Jewish than he have to pass trough an orthodox convertion which will be more easy for him then for a person of totaly non-Jewish origin, since from the orthodox point of view a decent of Jewish people shouldnt have difficulties when he want to return to his own origins.but its only up to him to decide wheter he want to be a jew or not.from the secular point of view ,some one which is from mixed origin can represent both of the sides (if there is only 2..) ,but allways there will be one side which he or she represent better, and this depend on different varibals such us :by which side he was raised mainly ,in which way the serround saw and treat him\her and etc. but all of this regards only for the cases of mixed origin.

If the Jewishness of Cantor is uncertain or in dispute, then I would err on the side of leaving him out of the Jewish category. Leaving him out doesn't deny his Jewishness if it exists. Perhaps a new category might be in order, of people with Jewish ancestry, who may or may not be Jewish themselves? -Amatulic 21:18, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

i reviewed several different sources and get to the conclusion that cantor was a jew. this is not just an assumption,it is true that some historians state that there is not strong evidence for cantor jewishness-but there are others which claim the right opposite lately.such as the fact that cantor used hebrew letters as matmatic signs and even jewish simbols such as the david shild.more over,cantor is mostly a Jewish name and there are newer evidence that suggest he was from Jewish origin and thus were ignored or unavilable for scholars such as Ivor Grattan-Guinness .--Gilisa 14:04, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

I decided to add him to German Lutherans as he apparently is that too.--T. Anthony 13:23, 17 April 2007 (UTC)


I really am not sure if I am inserting the comment the correct way. Anyhow, I wanted to report that in LudovicoGeymonat's "Storia del pensiero filosofico e scientifico" (in the fifth volume) is written that GeorgCantor's birth date is february 19 1845.

Could this be a Julian-versus-Gregorian thing? --Trovatore 23:03, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

I dont think so, as it is not specified in any way and all other dates reported are correct. If the date is not correct, the only thing I can think about is that for some reason there has been a bias from his marxist philosophy, as this author is known for being a marxist revolutionary (he lived through the fascist period in italy) and has been criticised by many for this. (or a typo).

(Although actually this could really be the problem, as it would fit the date almost exactly, plus or minus one day.) --Davide

March 3, 1845 (Gregorian) would = February 19, 1845 (Julian). If there is a Russian birth certificate, and Geymonat and his sources consulted it, it would be natural for them to use the date in front of them. The best thing would be if one of the sources can be cited as specifying, as they should, which they mean; in which case, add "Gregorian" and a footnote. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:47, 29 April 2007 (UTC)

Edit wars over Jewishness or otherwise

Really I would like this dispute to just go away. I don't think it's very revelatory of Cantor's life or work, and given that anything one says about it can so easily be misinterpreted, I am reluctant to get into it.

Unfortunately it appears that we have to address it, so I will offer my thoughts on the talk page, and encourage others to do the same rather than revert warring.

First let me list the points that I think are not in dispute:

  1. Cantor was a sincere Christian; he was not of the Jewish faith, as that faith is defined by Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform Judaism. (I list those because Christianity sees itself, roughly speaking, as Judaism plus a new revelation, so from the Christian perspective there's no logical reason a person can't be a sincere Christian and also of the Jewish faith -- but this combination is not how people are standardly categorized and therefore not relevant in this discussion.)
  2. There are quotes from Cantor that indicate a belief on his part that he had, or at least might have had, a measure of Jewish descent.
For the record, there are also statements that indicate he did not identify as such and in fact, may have even had some aversion to such an identification. --Tellerman

Now I'll list some points that are more problematic:

  1. The claim that "nowadays it is very well accepted that he was of Sephardic Jewish descent". There's a policy question and a factual question here. The policy question has to do with Wikipedia:Reliable sources#Claims of consensus (technically part of a guideline, not a policy), which says Claims of consensus must be sourced. The claim that all or most scientists, scholars, or ministers hold a certain view requires a reliable source. Without it, opinions should be identified as those of particular, named sources. Obviously that helps only to a certain extent (what if some source just claims that there's a consensus that there really isn't?) which brings us to the factual question -- is there really such a consensus?
There isn't. This whole discussion was already painfully dealt with a few months ago here when User:Gilisa was adding, not to be uncivil but, completely ridiculous statements describing Cantor's motivations and the meaning of his surname in German. After finding an equilibrium here, somebody apparently changed it back since then. Here's the edit: [9]. -- Tellerman
  1. The current footnote, About the past denial of Gerog Cantor Jewishness,partly for an Anti-semitic reasons, see at:Redner, Harry., 2002. Philosophers and Anti-semitism, Modern Judaism - Volume 22, Number 2, pp. 115-141. Oxford Uni. Press, is unacceptable as it stands. For one thing the spelling and grammar are terrible (none of the reverters who restored it seems to have seen fit to copyedit it, which makes one wonder if they'd actually read it before restoring it). More importantly it has a chip-on-the-shoulder tone not appropriate to Wikipedia (see WP:SOAP).
  1. The categories Category:Jewish mathematicians and Category:Sephardi Jews are dubious given that a reader might naturally interpret them as referring to faith.

I invite participants on both "sides" to respond to these points, and let's see if we can hammer out a verifiable version, written in encyclopedic style, acceptable to all. --Trovatore 18:48, 29 April 2007 (UTC)

Redner's point is (pdf text; usage may be restricted):

"The main focus of his [Wittgenstein's] animus and the butt of his attack is the set theoretical work of Georg Cantor, a Jew, which lies at the foundation of what can be called modernist mathematics. This kind of mathematics became the central preoccupation of the Go¨ttingen school of mathematicians among whom Jews, such as the renowned algebraists Edmund Landau and Richard Courant, and the logician Paul Bernays, played a prominent role. Their leader was David Hilbert, who developed on the basis of Cantor’s work an axiomatic approach known as mathematical Formalism. This approach and Hilbert himself, though he was not a Jew, aroused the particular ire of anti-Semites in mathematics, such as Ludwig Bieberbach. Wittgenstein, too, treated this great mathematician with condescending irony:

Hilbert states, “no one is going to turn us out of the paradise which Cantor created.” I would say, “I wouldn’t dream of trying to drive anyone out of this paradise.” I would try to do something different, I would try to show that it is not a paradise—so that you’ll leave of your own accord."
If Bieberbach behaved like Philipp Lenard, that certainly is part of the history of Cantor's reception. For the point at issue, however, "of Jewish descent" is sufficient for the intro; do the sources support it? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:57, 29 April 2007 (UTC)
Redner does not say, as far as I can tell, that anybody has denied Cantor's Jewish descent. He does say that Cantor's mathematics was denounced as Jewish, and speculates that Wittgenstein therefore found it unoriginal and pathological. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:05, 29 April 2007 (UTC)
He does quote Stefan Banach, at second hand:
Stefan Banach,himself a famous Polish mathematician, declared that Cantor, his teacher, was "the sort of Jew who does like to turn respectable people’s assumptions upside down: Jesus, Marx, Freud, Cantor"-he forgot to mention Einstein and might have added Spinoza as well-though perhaps not von Neumann.
Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:18, 29 April 2007 (UTC)
Marx, Freud - and Spinoza - were not Jews by faith. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:20, 29 April 2007 (UTC)
It seems to me that the relevant point regarding the reception of Cantor's work by anti-Semites is not whether he was Jewish, but whether they thought he was (they could have made the assumption based simply on his surname). In any case, you certainly seem to have refuted the footnote about "denial of Gerog Cantor Jewishness for an Anti-semitic reasons". As to your question about whether the sources support Jewish descent -- they certainly do to some extent; there are quotations by Cantor that are hard to read any other way. But whether these are enough to put him in the "Jewish mathematicians" and "Sephardi Jews" categories still seems an open question to me, and the "very well accepted" line does not yet convince me.
A meta-level comment: Let's try to focus as much as possible on the minimal set of questions that need to be resolved. This has already gone on far too long, and I'd like to see us converge, rather than raise new issues, if that is possible. --Trovatore 21:24, 29 April 2007 (UTC)
I do not understand this obsession with trivia. My understanding is that the man did not practice Judaism as a religion. Perhaps he was a closet Druid, or liked fine wine, or had a mole on his backside shaped like an Islamic crescent. This attempt to put him in some Jewish category — based on possible ancestry — is just as insane as Hitler's fixation on removing Jews from Göttingen. His ancestry seems to be totally irrelevant to his life and his work. Leave it out and move on. --KSmrqT 21:25, 29 April 2007 (UTC)
Yes, in general; but two quibbles: I have seen his insanity described as religious mania, so his faith, which was of course Christian, may be deeply relevant to his life. If his work was, even in small part, cried down by anti-Semitic mathematicians, that also should be considered for inclusion. Neither of these justifies the revert war. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:57, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
Agree with KSmrq. This should have been put to rest a long time ago. Anybody know what this "new ref" that concludes once and for all that Cantor was Jewish is? An anon mentioned it in the edit summary. Has it been cited yet? --Tellerman
I am not the anon; but I would suspect it to be the Jewish Mathematicians site, citing Cantor's father's letter. I would deprecate any text mentioning Eric Temple Bell, which is why my compromise didn't: he is severely dated, and he never was very reliable on purely historic questions. Our other anon insists on a version saying that Cantor's mother and grandmother were Gentiles; this ignores away his grandfather in a manner verging on novel synthesis. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:42, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
If you're right, that website doesn't count as a "new ref." It's already been added, removed, and readded for months. It doesn't pass reliability either: no self published sources. Dauben writes that Cantor is only Jewish through his grandfather. Aczel writes Cantor's paternal grandmother has the surname "Meier", and since Meier is a common Jewish surname, she was probably Jewish too. Grattan-Guiness goes into what I personally consider more professional detail and writes that it is unlikely Meier was Jewish as her relatives worked at Russian Universities, at which point in time did not employ anyone of Jewish background. That along with the fact that Meier is a Danish surname in addition to a Jewish one. Neither authors put much effort into proving Cantor's mother was Jewish, though it has been suggested by Eric Temple Bell that she was of Jewish descent. Despite all this, the only people that called Cantor Jewish in the past were anti-semites or fervent Zionists, neither of which should have any say in his biography. I think it would be best to just revert back to the version in February. It writes out briefly what every biographer says without really choosing sides. There's no reason it shouldn't satisfy both sides if both anons are truly neutral. --Tellerman
This is one assertion that Cantor's grandfather was Jewish, and no denials.
The argument on his grandmother seems very weak; Czarist universities discriminated on religious, not "racial" grounds; and Jewish families certainly did convert and hold professorial positions. They did not then make a point of announcing their ancestry; see for example Nicolas Slonimsky's autobiography, on how he was amazed to find out in his teens that he was Jewish by descent, although Orthodox by religion. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:09, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
Ivor Grattan-Guiness does deny that the grandfather was Jewish but only to the point of being a descendant from a displaced marrano community in Denmark. He rightfully concludes it is a huge stretch to proclaim Georg Cantor a Jew from this descent. Neither Dauben, Aczel, or Eric Temple Bell go into any detail of his background, so there can be absolutely no statements taken from them concerning that alone. --Tellerman
The text which Brownlee and I support does not endorse, or even mention, Aczel's position. (It would, however, be original research to devise our own refutation of it.) It does not say that Cantor was Jewish; only that he was Jewish by descent, which I gather M. Tellerman does not dispute.(I use the third person, as above, because with at least five discussants, "you" can become ambiguous quite easily.) Please start a new section to explain objections to it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:22, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
Abram Besicovitch converted to Orthodox Christianity and was still barred. Your novel synthesis doesn't help bring the issue to absolute neutrality. Either way, I can't see Aczel's argument of "Meier sounds a lot like a Jewish surname" being any stronger than Grattan-Guiness'. Especially since Meier is 369 on the top 1000 most common Danish surnames. 0.15% of the German population also attains this variant. It is not only a Jewish surname as someone reading Aczel might conclude. --Tellerman
Tellerman says "the only people that called Cantor Jewish in the past were anti-semites or fervent Zionists." Into which of these categories does Stefan Banach fall? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:17, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
What is with all this "Tellerman says"? You can address me directly. Why would Banach fall into either of those categories? Banach is not making a biographical statement about Cantor like a Nazi publicist or Jewish magazine editor would. His statement is colloquial and as Amir Aczel and Harry Redtner indicate, probably taken from the anti-semitic banters of his colleagues. Why are we even diving so deep into this discussion? Our conclusions aren't going to change the facts established in the writings on Cantor. --Tellerman
Tellerman unilaterally tries to discredit a web site accepted as a good source by many other editors. Fortunately, that is an irrelevance since it lists several undoubtedly good sources. Tellerman alleges that "the only people that called Cantor Jewish in the past were anti-semites or fervent Zionists, neither of which should have any say in his biography". Aside from the question of why Zionists are debarred from contributing to Wikipedia, Tellerman is quite wrong. Cantr was regarded as Jewish by the Jewish Encyclopedia of 1902, not a Zionist project, and by the Jewish Chronicle in 1904, before it became pro-Zionist.--Newport 22:21, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
"Aside from the question of why Zionists are debarred from contributing to Wikipedia" I wasn't aware wikipedia existed in the 1930s. --Tellerman
I don't undestand the "Tellerman unilaterally tries to discredit" part. It doesn't pass the guidelines for assessing reliability. That simple. Can you show how it does? --Tellerman

I agree that it would be better if the controversy went away. Let me add more points that are not in dispute:

  1. There is no requirement whatsoever that someone has to be a strictly observant Jew to be regarded as Jewish. By that argument we would have to exclude Albert Einstein or even Rabbi Leo Baeck. All that we need are reliable sources that someone is Jewish.
  2. There are indeed clear sources that he and his family thought that they had Jewish ancestry.
  3. Even before these sources were made public, he was regarded as Jewish. There is an article about him in the Jewish Encyclopedia (1902) and a clear statement in the Jewish Chronicle 9(1904).

However, to avoid endless argument I strongly support Pmanderson's compromise.--Brownlee 21:26, 29 April 2007 (UTC)

can brownlee tell everyone what was the date "these sources were made public"? and also where he found that out? 00:00, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Can I suggest you spend less time reverting and more time explaining your position? --Tellerman

very easy: it is vandalism to call someone something they do not want to be called. 18:44, 1 May 2007 (UTC) Clearly I will have to read the sources; the idea of a Dane called Woldemar makes me itch. Cf. Valdemar I of Denmark. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:22, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

You're finding clues where none exist. Woldemar is just the German form of Valdemar. Whether it's written the first way or the second depends on the country of the author writing it. --Tellerman
I'm not looking for "clues"; I don't care whether Cantor is Jewish or not. My interest here is in summarizing the sources, hopefully in a manner tolerable by everybody. I do wonder whether the Danish spelling (Joerg Valdemar?) would be more natural, after making a point of the man's Danishness. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:12, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

"...the only people that called Cantor Jewish in the past were anti-Semites or fervent Zionists...". That's mean that I, whether I'm a Zionist (and that have nothing to do with my writing here about Jewish figures-not that it make any difference), like more than a half of the Jewish people, can't comment here, and worse, I'm the Jewish equivalence for a Nazi-as Tellerman remind Zionists and Anti-Semics in the same breath... Tellerman actually saying that any body which claim, using the historical evidence, that Cantor was Jewish is not to be heard and is the worst kind of scam. No body can deny that Tellerman have an agenda, or that, regardless his accusations against me-is writing is highly uncivil, then. For myself, I'm sure that Tellerman is anti-semic for himself, otherwise, I cant explain his obsession and the comparison he made between anti- Semites and Zionists ( Zionism= Jews does have the right for a state of their own& Israel is the homeland of the Jews)-wikipedia can and should ask us to assume good faith, but it cant-and don't, ask us to be blind or to be tolerant with racists of all kinds-and this is not a Propaganda.I think that Tellerman arguments and statements are highly uncivil and driven by hate. However, I couldn't find any good reason for not mentioning the fact that Cantor thought that his father was Jewish as well- even if it had no importance for his work. Such an excuses don't sound well even if not as bad as Tllerman claims that to consider such a prominent mathematician as Jewish is some how racist, nationalist and etc (but to consider him as a pure "Aryan", even if there are heavy doubts about it, is quite o.k) .More, Tellerman called my claims "ridiculous" (By the way-Cantor does means Hazzan and it's a Jewish common surname) -and that's, even if highly uncivil, could be o.k by me- if he only did it in a discussion in which I was present...and that's while he ask users to address him directly and not to write "Tellerman said". I really don't care about your decision to consider Cantor as a totally non-Jewish, that wouldn't make him more or less Jewish, and any way, the Jewish people still have alot of other Great peoples which their Jewish origins are undeniable (even if some users consistently tried to hide it, using different excuses). But I do feel bad for getting too late to these discussion.--Gilisa 11:17, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Anon edits

Our anon has finally explained himself, as he should have done on this talk page. According to this edit summary, his beef is that "The problem is the sentence "Georg Cantor is Jewish and is not Jewish" makes no sense. Although both sides are supported. So "possibly" is the only compromise".

What the text objected to says is that Cantor's father "was a Dane of Lutheran religion and of Jewish descent". As far as I can tell, all these desciptors are consensus among the sources; I certainly see no actual contradiction among them. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:03, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Walter Purkert and Hans Joachim Ilgauds, *Georg Cantor: 1845-1918*, Birkhaeuser Verlag (1987)

See pp. 12-16. I quote from p. 15.

Dazu heisst es in einer Mitteilung des daenischen genealogischen Instituts in Kopenhagen aus dem Jahre 1937 ueber [Cantors] Vater:

"Es wird heirmit bescheinigt, das Georg Woldemar Cantor [the father], geboren 1809 oder 1814, in den Gemeindebuechern der judischen Gemainde nicht vorkommt, und dass er ganz ohne Zweifel kein Jude war ..."

Auch jahrelange Bemuehungen des Bibliothekars Josef Fischer, des besten Kenners der juedischen Genealogie in Daenemark, im Auftrag juedischer Professoren nachzuweisen, dass Georg Cantor juedischer Abstammung war, verliefen ergebnislos. In Cantors gedruckten Arbeiten und auch in seinem Nachlass gibt es keine Aeusserungen von ihm selbst, die sich auf eine juedische Herkunft seiner Vorfahren beziehen.

Translated to:

"In addition, in a report of the Danish genealogical institute in Copenhagen from the year 1937 on the origin of Georg Cantor's father: "it is hereby certified that, George Woldemar Cantor who was born, 1809 or 1814, is not present in the registers of the Jewish community, and that he completely without doubt was not a Jew " Efforts conducted for many years by the librarian Josef Fischer, the best connoisseur of the Jewish genealogy in Denmark to prove on behalf of Jewish professors that George Cantor was of Jewish descent, ran without any conclusive result. In Cantor's printed work and in its deduction there are no expressions of any references of the Jewish origin of it's ancestors."


  • Georg Cantor: His Mathematics and Philosophy of the Infinite* (1971, p 3):

"But it was the mathematician and historian E. T. Bell who popularized the portrait of a man whose problems and obscurities stemmed from Freudian antagonisms with his father and whose relationship with his archrival Leopold Kronecker was exacerbated because both men were Jewish. "..In fact, Cantor was not Jewish."


Ivor Grattan-Guiness, Annals of Science, Volume 27, Issue 4 December 1971 , pages 345 - 391

"given Christian names implies that the Cantors were not Jewish" as well as " is unlikely the mother was Jewish..."

"....Georg Cantor was not Jewish, contrary to the view which has. prevailed in print and in general opinion for many years..." 22:05, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

This looks to me like an Aryanization certificate of 1937, combined with an observation that if Cantor's mother and grandmother were not Jewish, rabbinic law would declare him a Gentile; the second is quite true - as far as it goes. The first I give all the weight it deserves. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:12, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Then we are settled. It is not neutral to declare Cantor as Jewish. Thank you. 22:14, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Though it is not relevant, " Denmark to prove on behalf of Jewish professors that George Cantor was of Jewish descent" hardly sounds like aryanization 22:15, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

I leave this remarks to speak for themselves, save for the obvious note that I agree with neither of them.Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:38, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Our anon misrepresnts Dauben, who discusses this matter quite briefly, in the first page of his introduction:
    • "But it was the mathematician and historian E.T.Bell who popularized the portrait of a man...whose relationship with with his archrival Leopold Kronecker was exacerbated because both men were Jewish. In fact, Cantor was not Jewish. He was born and baptized a Lutheran and was a devout Christian during his entire life." with two notes:
    • According to Bell's jaundiced viewpoint: "{T]here is no more vicious academic hatred than that of one Jew for another when they disagree on purely scientific matters or when one is jealous or afraid of another. Gentiles either laugh these hatreds off or go at them in an efficient, underhand way which often enables them to accomplish their spiteful ends under the guise of sincere friendship. When two intellectual Jews fall out they disagree all over, throw reserve to the dogs, and do everything in their power to cut one anothers' throats or stab one another in the back."
    • Grattan-Guiness (1971a, 351) although the matter is not as clear as it might be, consider a reference Cantor once made to his israelitische grndparents in a letter to P. Tannery of January 6,1896. [cites Tannery's Memoires 13;306] But neither in an orthodox rabbinical sense, since his mother was Roman Catholic, nor in the sense of a practiced faith can it be said that Cantor was Jewish.
      • Almost exactly the same note could have been written about Georg Woldemar Cantor. It is Jacob Cantor about whom the question arises, and none of the quote from Puckert above addresses it.
  • In short, all he says is that Cantor was not Jewish himself (which no editor has contended), that Bell is not a good source, but that there is evidence that Cantor's grandparents were Jewish. This is precisely what the rest of us have been saying.
  • Dauben goes on to discuss Cantor's father on p. 272ff, dismissing more of Bell; but aside from the fact that Cantor's father was educated in an evangelical Lutheran [rectius Evangelical Lutheran?] mission in Saint Petersburg, nothing particularly germane to the question at hand.
  • "Sephardic" is still unsourced.Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:48, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
In each of your reverts you put Georg Cantor to the category Category:Jewish mathematicians, so in each of your revert YOU, as an editor, contend that Georg Cantor is Jewish.
Throughout all this you are ignoring two of the most thorough Cantor biographies, Ilgauds and Meschkowski's... you are also ignoring Grattan-Guiness writings on Jacob Cantor.
You repeat "Sephardic is still unsourced" and in each of your reverts you re-add the category Category:Sephardi Jews. [10], [11]
Is there absolutely any explanation for this? 02:35, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Yes' that I prefer to work on the text first, and the cats later. I agree they are marginal. First to make the description in our text a recognizable account of the sources.

From Grattan-Guiness:

  • Schoenfliess (1927) and Fraenkel (1930) wrote second- or third-hand sources on Cantor. (p.350)
  • Bell ("perhaps the most widely read modern book on the history of mathematics. As it is also one of the worst...." (350, n.) repeated myths and half-truths. (This appears to be largely about Cantor's madness; but I'm sure GG would repeat it about his genealogy. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:18, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Born 3 March 1845 (new style) p.351
  • Jewishness defined (c. 1814) by religious conviction rather than racial inheritance, both in Denmark and in Russia.
    • Since Jakob Cantor gave Christian names to his children, the Cantors were not Jewish, then.
    • But the family may come from Portugal or Spain.
    • G.W.Cantor's first cousin was to be a professor at kazan with Lobachevsky. The Meyers, therefore, were most likely not Jewish - and GG repeats that this is a matter of religion, not heredity.
    • Cantor's mother "having been a Roman Catholic, is by definition non-Jewish."
  • All of this clearly means that none of these people were Jewish by religion; thus debunking Bell. GG is entitled to conclude that Cantor was not Jewish by faith or by rabbinic definition.
  • There were both Jewish and Gentile Cantor families; GG says, correctly, that the name is originally Latin.
  • Moritz Cantor was Jewish.
    • P. Tannery's entry on Moritz Cantor in La Grande encyclopedie (1890?) says they were related. Geymonat's history of infitiesmals (Turnion 1947, p.186 says, without source, that they are of the same Portuguese family which sent to Denmark, and split into branches, one in Germany, one in Russia. "We record but cannot verify this assertion by Geymonat, which in principle could be true"--GG
      • This is insufficient to verify a claim of Sephardic descent in WP. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:18, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
        • If you consider that to be true, then you agree there is not enough to verify a claim of significant Jewish descent either. Then we are in agreement and this is pointless. 03:31, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
          • No, I very stongly disagree. Being Sephardic is a stronger claim than being of Jewish descent; and it has infinitely weaker evidence. Cantor himself wrote that his grandparents were Israelites. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:40, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
        • I'm glad you're summarizing all this but what CONCLUSION do you actually want? There's no point in just discussing this and going no where with it. We have biographers and accounts that Jacob Cantor himself may have not been Jewish. This is a grandfather. Why is all this so relevant for wikipedia??? 03:31, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
          • My conclusion will be made as an edit to the text. Our purpose is to explain what the sources say to our readership.Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:40, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
            • What is that conclusion you want? What is the problem with the text, if any? Why not let it go and be as it is? Most brief biographies do not bother to mention it at all. Wikipedia does. What more is needed? [12] 03:46, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
          • I'm glad you changed those four words that startled you. You're still ignoring the statement from Purket and Ilgauds that Georg Cantor Senior was not Jewish at all, but that is unimportant. The page is fine, if it is maintained like that, we're done. Thank God. 05:17, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
            • Those quotations assert, in context, that there is no evidence that Jakob Cantor was a practicing Jew (there is very little evidence about him on any subject), which was the question being asked. This was a report made in 1937, eventually to be shown to the Nazis. Especially if Cantor's siblings or cousins were still alive, it was the act of a civilized man, under the circumstances, to make the family as non-Jewish as possible. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:27, 3 May 2007 (UTC)


  • Cantor's grandfather, possibly also his grandmother, seem to have be born, or been by descent Jewish. His father and himself were deeply religious Lutherans; his mother Roman Catholic.
  • Under these circumstances, he himself is not Jewish; "neither in an orthodox rabbinical sense, since his mother was Roman Catholic, nor in the sense of a practiced faith", as one authority says.
  • Should the article have the Category:Jewish mathematicians? The cat does allow for Jewishness by descent, but this is intended to cover cases like Einstein: unorthodox, unbelieving, or converted Jews.
  • There must be a limit to how tenuous descent must be to count; otherwise we get like the helpful soul who catted Robert E. Lee as Scottish-American. (The Lees are thoroughly English, but claim descent from Robert the Bruce.)
  • Purket and Ilgauld's Biography include quotations that describe Georg Waldemar Cantor, Georg Cantor's father, as "without a doubt, not a Jew". 03:50, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
This is a matter of definition, not of history, and I have no opinion on it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:40, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

There is far too much original research going on. We should report what reliable sources say, no more and no less. Unfortunately, several of the sources have been deleted for some reason, but presumably they are still in the history. How about:

Georg Cantor has often been described as Jewish, both during his lifetime (Jewish Encyclopedia, Jewish Chronicle) and subsequently (Encyclopaedia Judaica, Jewish Chronicle, other refs). He himself said (quote). In 1971 Ivor Grattan-Guinness said (quote). However, a more recent study of the subject, by Amir Aczel in 2000, says (quote).
-- 15:49, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Well, of course what you write is just fine at a general level, but
  1. it doesn't address the issue of whether the article should or should not be in the various "Jewish" categories (note that you can't put a citation on a category), and
  2. in my opinion, the question of Cantor's ethnic descent is a minor one and doesn't merit citing everyone who ever wrote anything about it. It is worth noting that the reception of his work was colored by anti-Semitism in some cases, but that doesn't have much to do with whether he had actual Jewish descent, but only whether his critics thought so. The citation policies are a great bulwark against outright crankery and speculation, but they aren't a cure-all; in particular, they can't tell us how much we should say about a given topic. On that score, I'm afraid we just have to discuss and negotiate. --Trovatore 18:37, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
    • I've put in to the text, and a note to the bibliography, in this version what the sources say ; and why this matters. I'm sure they can be shortened, but I am too close to the matter at the moment to do so. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:24, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

Please pay attention, all of you, to my last comment on: " Edit wars over Jewishness or otherwise". I accuse Tellerman there for using ansti-semic and uncivil statements. I know that on wikipedia every user should assume good faith, but for me, and for others, this is an extremely exceptional case. This painting the all debate with different coloros, at least as it regards to Tellerman's part. If you think that I'm wrong, and you can explain why-please, tell me. Best --Gilisa 13:20, 4 June 2007 (UTC)


Aczel deals with this on pp. 93-4. His conclusion is that Cantor is of Jewish descent, certainly on the father's side, probably on the mother's. His evidence for the latter is a letter from Cantor's brother Louis, in Chicago in 1863, to their mother, saying that "...we are the descendants of Jews." He acknowledges that all these matters are contested, and cites both Grattan-Guiness and Bell. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:53, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

He also says the Georg Woldemar remained anti-British all his life. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:01, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Letter does not appear to be from Bell; who is the only reference in that paragraph. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:59, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

Original research

We have no conclusive evidence that Cantor's mother was not Jewish, so it is correct to say that she may not have been. It is irrelevant to say "and he gave his children saint's names"; many Jews have such names. It clearly violates WP:NOR to say "Several of the grandmother's relatives were in the Czarist civil service, and can hardly have been practicing Jews either"; it is also irrelevant, as even if it is true, they could easily have been non-practising.--Brownlee 11:18, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

Neither is original; both are Grattan-Guiness's arguments, not mine; that he did give them saints' names is a fact. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:28, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
It is cited from the sources in the footnote. Please understand: We in Wikipedia cannot publish our own original research. But we can (and should) cite original research made and published by experts, e.g. by Dauben. Read please WP:OR once again.
Regarding the mother: It is you who should provide external evidence that she was Jewish. As far as I know, there are no clear proofs of it - she only wrote a letter, where she speaks indirectly that "we (wir) might be" of Jewish descent - but she did not write that "I (ich) am" from a Jewish family; and that "we" can as well refer to her husband, who is known to be from a Jewish family. That's all. --Ioannes Pragensis 11:41, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
It was her younger son, writing to her; not the other way around. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:28, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

Exactly; she might have been Jewish and it would be wrong to say definitely that she was not.--Brownlee 11:54, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

Yes, she "might have been", but it is up to you to prove the possibility, because there are no reliable sources for it to my knowledge. WP:V: "Editors adding new material should cite a reliable source, or it may be challenged or removed by any editor." Which is what I am going to do. - Moreover you cannot remove sourced material without reason. --Ioannes Pragensis 12:20, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
On the same reasoning: it is not up to Wikipedia to prove anything. We sit back and let the scholars bring us their arguments, and then we put them in. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:28, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

We have a source that says she might have been. The material was in - it was Ioannes Pragensis who altered it to say that she definitely wasn't. Can we please have proof that she definitely wasn't?-- 16:25, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

No, of course we can't prove that negative. She was baptized in the Church of Rome, which is all the contending scholars say. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:31, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
And I do not say that "she definitely wasn't". Maybe she was Jewish - or even maybe she was Japanese - who knows? But for including it here in any way, you need reliable scholarly sources, that is the point.--Ioannes Pragensis 19:51, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
Which we do have; Aczel concludes that she "probably" was of Jewish descent. Since two of her sons say they were ddescended from Jews, it seems silly to deny it; the present text may need tweaking. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:43, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
The two sons were of course descended from Jews, through their father. It says nothing about the mother. - But, if you have really a recent reliable source saying that she was "probably" of Jewish descent, then we can mention it in a footnote, and change the text accordingly.--Ioannes Pragensis 22:10, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
Aczel's phrasing (loc.cit.) is "most likely on both sides; certainly on his father's side...". Can we leave this now? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:54, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

Poor Yorick!

His non-Jewishness is given way too much weight, too early in the article. Propose to move the whole opening paragraph of Youth and studies, minus the first sentence, between

Cantor's paternal grandparents...


... rabbinical law

to a separate section at the end of the article, just before Notes, so that the beginning of the main text of the article (past lead) reads:

Cantor was born in 1845 in St. Petersburg, Russia, and brought up in St. Petersburg. He [Cantor] was the eldest of six children.

That section at the end would also be a good place to put in the fascinating description of the bibliographical sources on Cantor, which may be the best thing that resulted from the discussion, in a normal font (presently, it is set in such a tiny font that it actually hurts one's eyes to read). —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Arcfrk (talkcontribs) 05:03, 5 May 2007 (UTC).

First, I want to say I think we owe a rising vote of thanks to Pmanderson for his efforts to sort out this mess.
That said, I'm utterly disgusted that we can't get past this minor issue, even with far more text and footnotes than it merits. I'm starting to wonder if we shouldn't move the whole mess to an article called ethnic background of Georg Cantor or some such and let people fight it out there, leaving a link and a bare-minimum summary in this article. The analysis of the sources would might be on-topic as a section of the "ethnic background" article; here it really isn't, because it's not about Cantor but about his biographers, and for that reason I can't agree with making it a section of this article. --Trovatore 06:57, 5 May 2007 (UTC)
"My blushes, Watson." At the moment, we have most of a paragraph, which may be too much; if someone can prune it, fine. I put in the note on souces so that this article doesn't get rewritten from Bell, or someone else (Bertrand Russell, for example) who believed him on any of the things on which he was for long the only readily available source. Bell is apparently just as bad on Cantor's madness as on his ancestry; Grattan-Guiness spends most of his thirty pages on that. The only argument I see against Acfrk's move is that the unmoved text explains why Cantor was born in Saint Petersburg, and it may be possible to add two or three words on that. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:57, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

Rabbinic law

There is general agreement that Cantor's mother was baptized in the Church of Rome. Dauben deduces from this that Cantor, not being the child of Jewish mother, cannot be a Jew by rabbinic law. This seems correct from my understanding of the matter, although I am out of my field; and Dauben probably is also. If a source is not supplied, this should be reverted, to represent what the authorities actually say. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:22, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

Although I guess you could say in the article that Dauben deduces this, it is in fact not correct if you're using traditional Jewish law. Because, if, say, Cantor's mother's mother was Jewish, then his mother would be considered Jewish anyway, regardless of whether or not she had been baptized. Someone's mother being "Jewish" does not refer to her religion in this context, but rather to her own maternal ancestry. (an unbroken maternal line is what is needed for someone to be considered Jewish in this context). BTW, does anyone know who Cantor's maternal grandmother was? I may have missed it if it was mentioned in all the talk above. Mad Jack 00:36, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
Excuse me, but I do not understand, why is in the Cantor's case notable what the rabbinic law says about him. As far as I know, he never claimed Jewish nationality and never was of Jewish faith. In my opinion, it is about as relevant here as what the Islamic law Fiqh says about him.--Ioannes Pragensis 08:44, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
Not necessarily, considering Islamic Law doesn't say anything about him, likely. Mad Jack 16:19, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
  • I am certain that Dauben finds this notable because it controverts Bell's untenable and unsavory position.
  • As best I recall, none of the biographers say anything about Cantor's maternal grandmother, except the names of her husband and children. It is quite likely that Cantor's surviving papers say nothing.
  • An assertion that halakha includes any descendent of a Jew in the strictly female line as a Jew would require a source.
    • Such a doctrine would make the status of every non-Jew uncertain; we may all be descended from Sarah.
  • Most importantly, it is not our business to correct Dauben's flat assertion; if someone else does so, that's another matter. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:55, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
    • This is not my assertion. It is a fact that under traditional Jewish law, someone is Jewish only when their mother is. But how exactly does this mother gain her status as a Jew? By having a Jewish mother (or by being a convert). Why is her mother a Jew? Because her mother was. And so on and so forth. That's how that system works. This isn't a contested claim (within Jewish Law, that is); see for example [13] ("So, according to tradition, you are a Jew even if only your mother's mother's mother's mother was a Jew -- even if you were not raised as a Jew. Jewish blood on the mother's side trumps everything.") Of course under this system there may be a ton of people unaware that they would be considered Jewish, but that is, indeed, the case. Anyway, I don't see the point of bringing Jewish law into the article itself, since clearly Dauben isn't an expert on it. Just state what is known about Cantor's ancestry. If anything can be found on his maternal grandmother, great, but regarding Cantor's official "status", she is the important one in this equation. Mad Jack 04:15, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
Your source says that Reform Rabbis would disagree; but your action in removing the bone of contention may be best. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:58, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
Yes, Reform Rabbis would disagree because they don't use traditional Jewish Law at all; i.e. your mother doesn't have to be Jewish in Reform Judaism for you to be considered Jewish. Jewish law - maternal descent - is used only in Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, and in those cases it's used as I described it. Mad Jack 05:21, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
So if evidence is discovered that a historical figures "mother's mother's mother's mother" was Jewish than they should be listed as Jewish whether anyone in their lifetime, including themself, thought of them as Jewish? Being 1/16th or 1/16,324th Jewish makes you Jewish as long as there's an unbroken maternal line? Intriguing.--T. Anthony 12:54, 19 May 2007 (UTC)
Yes, that is technically correct, although 1. Most people's ancestry that far back is rarely known and 2. I doubt you'll find too many "surprises" about someone having a Jewish ancestor that far back. Intermarriage was so rare back in the day. 200 years from now, however... In fact, the only such example I can think of that is known is Elvis Presley - if this is correct - [14] Mad Jack 19:19, 19 May 2007 (UTC)

Please pay attention, all of you, to my last comment on: " Edit wars over Jewishness or otherwise". I accuse Tellerman there for using ansti-semic and uncivil statements. I know that on wikipedia every user should assume good faith, but for me, and for others, this is an extremely exceptional case. This painting the all debate with different coloros, at least as it regards to Tellerman's part. If you think that I'm wrong, and you can explain why-please, tell me. Best --Gilisa 13:20, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Gilisa, if you want to make the extremely serious accusation (for which, as an aside, I have seen no convincing evidence; his anti-nationalist overt positions could be those of an anti-Semite seeking to conceal his motivations, but so could practically any discourse whatsoever) that Tellerman's edits have an anti-Semitic agenda, I would suggest that the proper forum is a user conduct RfC. Be aware that an RfC, once started, can take on a life of its own, and that your own conduct could end up being examined. But please do not use this article as a battleground in that war. --Trovatore 22:39, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Cantor's Ancestry

That whole section is a hodge podge of original research/weaselly wording ect. I removed him from the list of Jewish Scientists until it could be resolved in here. Thanks, --Tom 13:36, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

Good Article Review

This article is currently at Good Article Review. LuciferMorgan 16:42, 20 May 2007 (UTC)

In light of this review I have tweaked the article (see diff), but I have not been a main editor, so any help adding citations (important if we want it to pass) and tweaking the prose so that it passes the review would be appreciated. Thanks--Cronholm144 10:57, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

OK to use templates...?

Is it OK if I use (or try to use, depending on how hairy it gets) templates to standardize the format of the References section? I'm not talking about the footnotes in the text; just the format of the sources... Ling.Nut 07:24, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

i think it's worth a try.. Quaeler 09:03, 31 May 2007 (UTC)
...Have been plugging away at citations on a userspace workpage link removed' OK if we use that instead? Thanks! Ling.Nut 16:20, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
Fine by me: I did try a bit to standardize the refs, but was too lazy to introduce templates. I normally use cite book etc., but the Harvard format is fine. Geometry guy 17:36, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

(undent) OK I did it, but I know I accidentally wrote over EdJohnston's new ISBN info.. can y'all do me a favor? I apologize.. but I really really really need to study.. can y'all double-check & correct everything I added? BTW, I don't think the older version was correct in citing Ewald repeatedly; I believe those were different chapters of the same book.. please reinsert the ISBN I over-wrote.. and anything else.. thanks!!! Ling.Nut 18:18, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Request(s) for help

See my comments in the thread immediately above about checking the refs & my lack of time.. but I think Geometry Guy is on the case! :-) There's some 'really good info in Dauben 2004 about the significance of cantor's contribution to mathematics (page 1) and about how Cantor thought "transfinite numbers had come to him as a message from God" and "Cantor believed he was chosen by God to bring the truths of set theory to a wider audience. " (pages 8 & 11). I think these both need to be added. Can someone summarize and properly reference that info? Thank you! Ling.Nut 18:57, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

  • Done. Ling.Nut 19:05, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Ready for WP:FAC?

I believe the article is ready to be a Featured Article candidate. Does anyone have any objections? --Ling.Nut 19:07, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

I don't see how anyone could object to your dedication and ambition! However, just as a suggestion, it is often a good idea to try Wikipedia:Peer review first. Geometry guy 19:21, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes, thanks... in theory that is 100% and absolutely correct. In practice.... my limited exp. (and I have seen others comment similarly) is that Peer Review is... a long wait for minimal help. Perhaps no real help... Comments? Ling.Nut
You are wiser than me, I think (as befits your status!). There is also scientific peer review and the Math WikiProject. The latter might be able to help refine the set theory section if you ask nicely at WT:WPM: there are a lot of very good and friendly logicians on the team. Geometry guy 19:45, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
Now those suggestions do seem more agreeable to me... see what others think? Ling.Nut 19:47, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
At the first sight, from the criteria in WP:FACR, the third one (images) is the most problematic. More images of Cantor, images of important contemporaries, illustrations of his scientific discoveries... Crossing fingers,--Ioannes Pragensis 20:40, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, it says "when appropriate to the subject". To my mind, the image obviously appropriate to a bio is a portrait of the individual (when available, of course), and we have one. I don't see the point in adding more portraits just to have more images. Images of his contemporaries might just be confusing (if we put in a pic of Kronecker, someone glancing at it without reading the caption might think it's Cantor). Most of his work doesn't lend itself well to illustrations; while I suppose we could steal a couple from other articles to illustrate, say, the bijection between the naturals and the rationals, and the lack of one between the naturals and the reals, and we could even throw in a pic of the Cantor set, I frankly don't think those are terribly on-topic at this article. --Trovatore 20:47, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
Oops, my comments got gobbled up by an edit conflict. I mostly agree with Trovatore that we cannot add images for images sake. A picture of Cantor at a different stage of life would be nice, if there is one, as would an unflattering image of Kronecker (only joking, well half-joking ;) On the other hand the third point is quite important. Cantor's work is really abstract, so we need an image/figure or two to make it more friendly. Trovatore makes some very good suggestions. Also, there must be something we can do with Cantor's diagonal argument. I hope the Maths Wikiproject can help. Geometry guy 20:59, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
Does anyone know a copyrights guru? Ling.Nut 22:34, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
I con doodle some pictures illustrating set theory if anyone wants, I am also going to go search commons for some pics. I will keep you posted.--Cronholm144 07:52, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

wikicommons set theory entries

For your inspiration, there are already FAs about German scientists of 19th century. Look at them in order to know how it feels like. Carl Friedrich Gauss, Max Weber,... --Ioannes Pragensis 17:06, 3 June 2007 (UTC)
The Gauss article strikes me as one that throws in images for no clear reason, apparently just to have them. Why do we want a book cover, for example? If there are images that genuinely add to the article, great; if it's just genuflecting to the FA cabal, no thanks. --Trovatore 01:31, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
In my humble opinion, images almost always add to the article, even more so to the biographical article. They add the atmosphere, they help readers to keep attention. Cheers,--Ioannes Pragensis 13:19, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, I don't entirely agree with you there. Well-chosen images, yes. Ill-chosen images focus the reader's attention on irrelevancies, and that's worse than nothing. In particular I would not like to see pictures of Venn diagrams here; Cantor as far as I know did not use them, and that's not the sort of set theory that he did. An illustration of the diagonal argument would be OK, though. Or maybe a progression of ordinals in Cantor normal form. --Trovatore 20:22, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree. It would be fantastic if we could find/create an image for the diagonal argument. This is desperately missing at Cantor's diagonal argument too. Geometry guy 20:33, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

(undent)(edit conflict)

  1. I agree about Venn diagrams. Even to me as a non-mathematician, it seems obvious that they are not relevant...
  2. The internet is full of images of every kind, including of the diagonal argument. I strongly oppose using them, for fear of copyvio etc., but it is not a big deal to recreate them (esp. the diagonal arg. ones) using PSP or PhotoShop or whatever...
  3. I could also scan some portrait images of Cantor... but would need to investigate copyvio issues there as well... Ling.Nut 20:39, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict)I found a couple already and I am looking through my books for some others, I can whip up an SVG within a day.--Cronholm144 20:44, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
Cool... I think it would be a good idea for you and User:Trovatore and any other interested Math people to look at more than one option, and decide which is more useful/illustrative. I'll just sit on the sidelines and cheer. ;-) Ling.Nut 21:08, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
Diagonal argument.svg
Diagonal argument 2.svg
Here it is, released under GFDL by yours truly, let me know if it needs tweaking.--Cronholm144 00:20, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
Nice, but this is not Cantor's diagonal argument (which shows that the reals are uncountable); instead it illustrates that the rationals are countable. Geometry guy 00:35, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
Well don't I feel dumb (I guess I should have read the wikipedia article first :) )... I could have sworn that the diagonal argument showed the countability of the rationals...sigh. Well, illustrating that the rationals are uncountable will be much less fun to draw but I'll get on it now.--Cronholm144 07:50, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
Here is a rough sketch of the diagonal for the reals 0 to 1, I can change it for clarity as consensus dictates. --Cronholm144 15:55, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
One possibility would be to have a couple of images. The first would list binary rationals in some reasonable (or unreasonable) order, with 1's and 0's colored accordiningly; the second would give the same list, but with the numbers down the diagonal reversed and highlighted in a different colour. I'm sure much better ideas are possible (and probably already exist on the net or even in WP), but I just want give the gist of the idea. Geometry guy 01:10, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
Before you put too much effort into that, let me point out that there's a minor technical problem with using binary. How do you know, say, that your reversed diagonal real doesn't come out 0.001010111111..., ending with infinitely many ones, when the equal number 0.0010110000..., ending with infinitely many zeroes, is somewhere on the list? Using decimal it's easy to avoid this problem, by specifying that the diagonlized real is never to contain a 0 or a 9 (say, if the original digit is 7, change it to 5; otherwise make it 7). The equivalent trick works in any base greater than or equal to four. --Trovatore 07:34, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
Good point, thanks for that! Now I'm the one who feels dumb :) Geometry guy 12:36, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Cronholm, the pic looks nice, but a couple of comments. First, what's the blue-and-white checkerboard in the background? Does that show up only in the high-resolution version? Even then it might be distracting. More substantively, see my comments above about binary -- with the scheme you're using you could run into the same problem with the diagonal ending with an infinite string of zeroes or nines. Finally, there is a small issue that this version is apparently not historically exactly Cantor's proof (I think this is discussed in the Cantor's diagonal proof article or its talk page) but perhaps we can live with that if it's thought that this version is easier for most readers to understand what it's about. --Trovatore 19:33, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Checkers? Do you mean the ones on the image page? If you do, the answer is no, and the image can be scaled to any size without a significant loss of quality. I am aware of the issue with the infinite strings of 9's and 0's but can we just exclude them from our set? If we show uncountablility for a subset don't we show it for all reals? I think we can say that the image is a easier-to-understand version of the proof in the caption, or I could remake the image. Whatever works best for the article.--Cronholm144 19:47, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
So, yes, if you show uncountability for a subset you show it for the whole set, but if you're not a little careful you won't get a valid proof for the subset either -- your original list might not have any numbers that end in an infinite string of 0s or 9s, but the diagonal real nevertheless might. One way to avoid this is never to change a digit on the diagonal to 0 or 9.
I looked up the translation of Cantor's original paper, linked to from the WP article in question. It appears that he did not claim to show in this paper that there are uncountably many reals, but only that there is some uncountable set. For that purpose, binary sequences work fine; you avoid the infinite-string-of-ones problem simply by not interpreting the sequences as numbers but just leaving them as sequences. In fact Cantor doesn't use the digits 0 and 1 at all, but the letters M and W. --Trovatore 19:59, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

M and W... so you have spoken so it shall be.--Cronholm144 20:04, 5 June 2007 (UTC) Take a look now--Cronholm144 20:36, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

So I may have mislead you -- Cantor's paper seems to use lowercase m and w (at least in the linked paper; who knows how accurate it is). You have M and N. Not that it matters mathematically, of course, just that you seemed to be trying to make it historical (not sure how I feel about how important that is).
Maybe the question is, what are we going to do with the image? Do we just put a few words in the caption and direct the reader to Cantor's diagonal argument for the explanation? --Trovatore 21:09, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
.....sigh my occasional dyslexia cuts me to the quick. I was even looking at Cantor's original when I made my mistake. I will redo the image.--Cronholm144 22:04, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
Done again--Cronholm144 22:17, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
I've added it to the article. --Trovatore 23:56, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
The checkers are just there to show "transparency" in the image: when included, they get replaced by the background. As for the technical issues, I suggest that for simplicity the illustration should not have any 8s or 9s in the diagonal: in this way, Cronholm's +1 mod 10 algorithm will not produce any 9s or 0s in the diagonal argument. These more subtle issues can then be left (perhaps) for a footnote, with reference to Cantor's diagonal argument. Geometry guy 20:05, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

... the one in which I shamefacedly reverse myself...

I am sorry... I read the article top–to–bottom in the light of a new day, and I think it needs nontrivial copyediting.. i can help.. but am supposed to be studying for prelims.. Ling.Nut 00:42, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

I think you have made very significant improvements and should not be downhearted. I haven't yet tried reading it in linear order, myself, but on a scan-and-look-for-problems type of reading, it looks very good. --Trovatore
Thanks for your kind words, though I came late to the game and only threw a few blocks here and there... if I have time I will try to hit the article hard tomorrow.. but then I will need math folks to make sure that seemingly innocent grammatical changes do not in fact alter content (e.g. in the "the" question I asked you earlier)... Ling.Nut 02:59, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
  • My wife and I just rec'd very promising info about job possibilities. Since that's the case, I Really need to pass the prelims. I've been struggling for months to take a longish break from Wikipedia, with a notable lack of success!!! But I really need to try again.
  • The Set Theory section is simply way too long and is a bit scattered. It needs to be broken up into subsections and/or some info moved into other existing sections. I'm sure a philosophy/religion section can be created; what about a "continuum hypothesis" subsection? And some info is currently placed in that section simply because of its chronology, not because it is topically related.
  • I have a workpage with some cites, in case you need them. I made a very preliminary start at rewriting the WP:LEDE, but it still needs a lot of work. Forex, if you add new sections, the topic of those sections deserves mention in the lede, etc.
  • Again, this is the umpteenth time I've said I'm gonna pull away from wikipedia because of prelims, & I have never succeeded. But time to try again.
  • Ling.Nut 14:42, 8 June 2007 (UTC)


Hi... I've done some work on a section about philosophy/religion and Cantor, here. [link removed later; finisged section] I finished a good first draft of the theology bit, but there needs to be a paragraph about "The essence of mathematics is freedom" (some discussion of it in Controversy over Cantor's theory). I'm also supposed to be studying for prelims so will probably drop cantor again for many days.. if anyone wants to write the freedom of mathematics paragraph, please feel free. See Dauben 1979 pp. 132-133. Also see Dauben 1977. When that's done we'll move it into the Cantor article. Some existing paragraphs will need to be deleted...

Thanks! Ling.Nut 01:50, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

I added the section... Ling.Nut 19:24, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

restructured/added new section/ added other new content/ sent to peer review

  • I restructured/added new section/ added other new content/ sent to peer review. we'll see what happens. The Quest for FA marches on! Later... Ling.Nut 19:25, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

putting it in WP:FAC

  • putting it in WP:FAC... I think it's totally ready for the onslaught... Ling.Nut 14:58, 23 July 2007 (UTC)


I see the paragraph on Cantor's ancestry has been bowlderized since I wrote it. The last condition I saw in it was:

Cantor's paternal grandparents were from Copenhagen, and fled the disruption of the Napoleonic Wars; Cantor himself called them "Israelites". There is no direct evidence that the grandfather, Jakob Cantor, was a practicing Jew; and he gave his children saint's names - but there is very little evidence about him at all. Several of the grandmother's relatives were in the Czarist civil service, and can hardly have been practicing Jews either. Cantor's father, Georg Woldemar Cantor, was educated in the Lutheran mission in Saint Petersburg; and his correspondence with his son shows both of them as deeply believing Lutherans. His mother, Maria Anna Böhm, was an Austrian born in St. Petersburg and baptized Roman Catholic; she converted to Protestantism upon marriage; She may, however, have been descended from Jews. Cantor was not himself Jewish by faith. He has been called variously German, Jewish, Russian, and Danish. <:ref> For more, see J.W. Dauben Georg Cantor: His Mathematics and Philosophy of the Infinite Cambridge Mass., 1979, p.1 and notes' Ivor Grattan-Guiness: Towards a Biography of Georg Cantor, Annals of Science, 27 (1971), 345-391, esp. 350-352 and notes; Purkert and Ilgauds: Walter Purkert and Hans Joachim Ilgauds, Georg Cantor: 1845-1918; Aczel, p.93-4, quoting an 1863 letter from Cantor's brother Louis to their mother: "...we are the descendants of Jews." </ref>

This has been drastically changed by the interposition of weasel words; yet it has the same sources. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:23, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

This state of the paragraph already adjusts from the sources by omitting Grattan-Guiness' and Dauben's joint conclusion that Cantor was not halaknically Jewish, since his mother was not; because of the reasoning above that it is impossible for this to be certain of any human being unless (as is never the case) his maternal ancestry is known back to Sarah's time. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:32, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

To be honest, the differences between the "last condition you saw it in", and the current version, seem minor to me. Could you identify the changes you see as most problematic? --Trovatore 19:37, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

I would add that whether Cantor was Jewish according to the halaka is an internal religious matter not terribly relevant here, especially since Cantor himself presumably did not consider the halaka to be authoritative. We aren't going to give an opinion on whether Cantor's Lutheran bishop was validly part of the apostolic succession (if Lutherans even have bishops; not too sure about that), and I don't know why we more need to discuss this issue. However, if some authoritative Jewish body has in fact ruled on whether they considered Cantor to be Jewish, then I suppose that would be interesting enough to report (but presumably it hasn't happened, because it would have been mentioned by now). --Trovatore 19:51, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

But our sources do say it; shouldn't we follow them? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:09, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
Not if it's not relevant, no. Obviously we're not going to report everything the sources say. My feeling is that this is not relevant to the article. --Trovatore 22:05, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

The present text is:

Cantor's paternal grandparents were from Copenhagen, and fled the disruption of the Napoleonic Wars. Cantor himself called them "Israelites", for their possible Jewish ethnic origin. However, there is no direct evidence on whether his grandparents practiced Judaism, or identified themselves as adherents of the religion. In point of fact, Jakob Cantor, his grandfather, gave his children Christian saint's names. Further, several of his grandmother's relatives were in the Czarist civil service, an institution that discouraged non–Christian self–identification. Cantor's father, Georg Woldemar Cantor, was educated in the Lutheran mission in Saint Petersburg, and his correspondence with his son shows both of them as devout Lutherans. His mother, Maria Anna Böhm, was an Austrian born in St. Petersburg and baptized Roman Catholic but converted to Protestantism upon marriage. She may, however, have been of Jewish descent.

Cantor was not himself Jewish by faith, but has nevertheless been called variously German, Jewish,* Russian, and Danish.

  • Cantor was frequently described as Jewish in his lifetime. For example, Jewish Encyclopedia, art. "Cantor, Georg"; Jewish Year Book 1896–7, "List of Jewish Celebrities of the Nineteenth Century", p.119; this list has a star against people with one Jewish parent, but Cantor is not starred.

The first paragraph has the same footnote as before. I bold the changes I find particularly troublesome. The treatment of Cantor's mother was unwise when first written; we should have simply stated the evidence. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:01, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

I changed "practicing Jews" to "...practiced Judaism, or identified themselves as adherents of the religion" simply to avoid what appeared weasel-ish to me... feel free to change it back to "practicing Jews" if those words have special meaning to you. Ling.Nut 21:19, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
PS, Dauben states flatly, "In fact, Cantor was not Jewish" I can add tht if it seems appropriate. Ling.Nut 21:22, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
Yikes, G-G agrees, 1971, p.351. Dauben says, "... htough the matter is not as clear as it might be, considering a reference C. once made to his israelitische grandparents in a letter to P. Tannery of Jan. 6 1896... But neither in an orthodox rabbinical sense, since his mother was a Roman Catholic, nor in the sense of a practiced faith can it be said that Cantor was Jewish. Ling.Nut 21:28, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
That's why I would be more comfortable with saying something of the sort ourselves. On the other hand, the present statements about his grandparents seem overemphatic for what is, as far as I can tell, an absence of evidence. This text has, in effect, made concessions both to the "Cantor was really Jewish" and to the "Cantor was really German" camps, and I feel it has made both in the wrong places. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:30, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

(undent) {{sofixit}}. My Dauben quote above was 1979, p. 315 n5. The footnote refers back to p. 1 of the same text, where we have the ff.: "...But it was the mathematician and historian E.T. Bell who popularized the portrait of a man... whose relationship with his archrival Leopold Kronecker was exacerbated because both men were Jewish.[A footnote here attributes a "jaundiced viewpoint" to Bell, with an extremely racist direct quote of Bell] In fact, Cantor was not Jewish. He was born and baptized a Lutheran and was a devout Christian during his life.[footnote here, as quoted in my post above]" Use these as you will. Ling.Nut 23:38, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

I just don't think it's useful to make pronouncements about Cantor's status according to Jewish law. What Jewish law thought about Cantor does not appear to have been important to him personally, nor to have affected his life, his work, or how his work was received. Anti-Semites who were hostile to his work based on his perceived Jewishness were presumably not interested in fine points of halakachic law.
More, we don't have any reliable sources on the point; as far as I know neither Dauben nor Grattan-Guiness was a rabbi. Gilisa seems to think Cantor might have qualified, based on a presumed forced and insincere conversion of someone in his maternal line in Portugal. That argument strikes me as a bit weak, but I'm disinclined to speculate on how a rabbinical court might view it. If we have text on the subject, then we open the door to possible counterarguments along that line; if we just say it's not relevant (which is actually true) then we avoid the whole problem. --Trovatore 00:55, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
Well, it is true that both our sources are, understandably, upset by Bell; they may also dislike the Jewish nationalist effort to claim Cantor. I think we would be responsible to cite them, but am prepared to leave it for now; how about the above quote from Dauben in the footnote? I will fix the rest of this and remove the tag. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:06, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Reading comprehension? Yes, I assume that most of the users have it, but I cant see how my very short additional comment, which for me and for many other users which are not native English speakers (and at least for us) make it more clear, make the ancestry section significantly longer, actually, most of the ancestry section is devoted to explain why Cantor wasn’t a Jew and why that he called to his ancestors "Israelites" is mean less-so get to proportions please. Any ways, I don’t see any "NATIONALIST" effort that being put by Jews, like me, to claim Cantor as a Jew, it’s really possible that he was of Jewish ancestry (and so a Jew according to the rabbinical institutions if any one asked for an answer), no body tried to say that Newton, for example, was a Jew (even through that he knew Hebrew ) or that Bill Clinton is a Jew, I can easily say that some users efforts to clean Cantor out of Jewishness look very nationalist/racist or what so ever at least as the "Jewish efforts to claim Cantor" and unlike you claimed, it is not very clear and not very possible that he wasn’t of Jewish ancestry, at least partly. Blaming people who want to add this facts as “nationalists” , “fervent Zionists “ or what so ever, is truly going to far and getting to close to anti-Semite, any reasonable person can see this,, no matter what travtore would say about it. --Gilisa 18:11, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Should we also include that he could have been homosexual? --Tom 13:24, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Sorry to disappoint you Tom, there is much grater possibility that he was a Jew than he was a homosexual-and I have to tell you that if one’s is a Jew it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is a homosexual, Cantor also made is Jewishness possible with his own words-I never heard that he said something like "man are so attractive" but he did said that he is a descended of Israelites. I know that for some, which took over Cantor biography (even through non of them is qualified to do so), it's really irritating to hear time after time that Cantor was probably a Jew (and while someone who tell that a French scientist was actually German is not consdering as a nationalist- one who saying that Cantor was Jewish- does (and here you are not asked to proof it or to carry the 'burden of evidence' by some double standard and one sided users))- but it doesn’t mean that he was a homosexual as well and ‘threats’ like that really wouldn’t make Cantor ancestors less Jewish- if you have a well sourced reference for Cantor’s possible homosexuality- go ahead, but you probably don’t-and that’s the big difference-more, unlike the ethnic origin-the sexual orientation of one is his own private matter and unless one said it clearly that he is a homosexual it could be a slander to say he is(you can understand it, right?). I was really disappointed to find that because of a minority of users Wikipedia is far from being a neutral place when it come to anti Semite and racism and I already find out few racist users-but no worries for them, no worries…lol--Gilisa 05:50, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Hi Gilisa, being of Jewish descent myself, it really wouldn't disappoint me either way. I was in no way saying that Jewishness equals homosexuality. It was more that speculation in regards to his ethnicity is unneccessary as is speculation to one's sexual preference. Anyways, it just seems that a whole bit about who or what qualifies one as being a Jew is out of place in this article and does not make the article read/flow well. Anyways, no biggie here either way. Just my two cents.Cheers! --Tom 15:49, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

I know what you meant, no explanations needed (you been sarcastic any way, and so did my reply), but I didn't answer to you only. It's your call to decide whether one's ethnicity have any importance for you- but you can't compare it to sexual preference as usually the ethnicity, for many people, is a basic fact which they want to know-please don’t ignore that. Any ways I already seen many cases in which Jewish people which there is no doubt for their Jewishness, been called fervently "Germans" or etc and many times also with a refusal to mention the Jewish origin-I cant accept it and I really don’t think that any discussion should take place about it.--Gilisa 09:29, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

(You don't think any discussion should take place about it, but at this point you won't stop talking about it despite a lack of verbage being posted — perplexing. (and please, please, don't take this as reason to make another repetitive post)). Barring anyone bringing up any more points concerning "Cantor's ancestry" section on the wiki page, let's consider this talk section closed (and therefore not a spot for soap-box-ing). Quaeler 11:28, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Can I clap my hand's in honor of your reply now? I would reply you anway, as I don’t need your permission for doing so (that's a fact I think), and your decry reply for my comment, even though it wasn't addressed to you, is something that I find only uncivil, nothing more than that, sorry mate (and sorry for responding, as you knew very well I would, but had you really want me not to reply, you wouldn't write me at the first place.......- it was highly sophisticated bait, I think). you probably didn’t understand what I was writing (or that you quote me out of context on purpose????), I think that I made myself very clear. As I said-there are users in Wikipedia which cant live with the idea of mentioning the Jewishness (not only Jews suffer from it, but also other ethnic groups and etc) of prominent figures, something that should be done without no doubt-and I don’t even had the intention to discuss it on this page or with you-from the first time on this section I was only replying to others or explaining the minore edits I made on Cantor article-so, can you explain me now-what is your problem with taht?-please dont, as another decry response wouldn't promote as anywhere. BTW, Wikipedia is a dynamic, free, on line, encyclopedia – and I’m afraid that it’s far from being neutral, so nothing is close-even though, for myself I have no intention to get into wars here, on this page.--Gilisa 13:27, 31 August 2007 (UTC)


It seems to me that the mathematical content of this article could still use a bit of work. At the moment, there is some repetition, but it is not used to good effect to provide the non-mathematical reader with elementary explanations. Some things appear out-of-place: for instance, Cantor's theorem was proven in 1891, wasn't it? If so, it seems strange to discuss it in the context of his 1874-1884 contributions. Comments? Geometry guy 15:26, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

I tidied it, but now wonder whether to merge the opening section into the set theory bit (perhaps with a subsection on "Development of set theory", or "Infinite sets"). Geometry guy 22:34, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Main page appearance?

Does anyone know when this article will (or perhaps, did) appear on the main page? It's the first one I've ever really cared about the answer for that question. --Trovatore 21:12, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

Hasn't been there yet! :-) In fact, I totally forgot to mention that there's a Wikipedia:Today's featured article/requests page where you put your article in the queue.. I think it would be fitting/appropriate if you were the one to list it there, Trovatore. -- Ling.Nut 22:37, 9 August 2007 (UTC)
I'd be happy to list it. Any suggestion for a suggested date? His birthday seems too far off. The date Hilbert announced his problems was (sigh) yesterday. Anyone know when On a characteristic property of the set of all algebraic real numbers was published? --Trovatore 05:25, 10 August 2007 (UTC)
I tried to find the month/date, but was unable.. the discussion in Dauben '79 makes it seem as though it were early in the year, but that impression could easily be wrong... I personally would suggest "the soonest date possible" as the most appropriate date. :-) -- Ling.Nut 06:30, 10 August 2007 (UTC)


There is a start up company in California, named "PowerSet" (they probably implement the powerset for making natural language search algorithms- in away, for what I understand, which is not very revolutionary in comparison with other start up companies that have to do with computional linguistics - but I can be wrong about it) and according to this [15] they made few edits on "Wikipedia"' does any one know whether they made any editing here?.Hmmm... well, when I think on it again, the answer is not realy needed.--Gilisa 17:21, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

Main page

Congrats on the main page appearance! Well deserved, I think... Geometry guy 15:47, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

Logic Portal

The current logic Portal block found in this article looks like the following

The missing image is due the the improper use of the template, which requires that the image to be used be identifed in the template following the name of the portal. I am not sure what image should be used and therefore am raising the question here. Also, since portalpar is a redirect to portal the preferred syntax would be {{portal|Logic|image name}} Dbiel (Talk) 18:00, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

I do not know what changed, if anything did, but the default image is now being displayed rather than the missing image logo. Possibly a problem on my side. Just needed to close this comment section. Dbiel (Talk) 12:00, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

"when he became ill"

Who, the son or the father? Too Old 20:03, 15 September 2007 (UTC)


It appears that there is an attempt to de-Judaize Cantor here; one is struck with the similar nazi programme to de-Judaize Europe.

Cantor is an obvious Jewish name, and the use of the aleph to represent transfinite numbers is more than a strong hint at Cantor's origins.

One cannot remove Cantor from his historical period wherein one could not advance in academia without distancing oneself from his or her Jewish nationality. Civil and political rights were granted to the Jews on the more or less implicit understanding that they would cease to identify with the Jewish nationality. Note my reference to nationality and not "religion," it is intentional, because in Cantor's time it was argued, not very successfully, that Judaism was merely a religion, similar to papism and its dirivatives like the ravings of the mad dog Martin Luther, (see: On the Jews and their Lies).

Cantor, like so many others, had to downplay his Jewishness in order to advance in academia.

Cantor has so much "Jewish" written all over him in respect of his work and life history that Wikipedia, by omiting this obvious aspect, has once again proven how unreliable a source it truly is.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 20:46 (UTC), 15 September 2007

Being Jewish myself, I would certainly love to claim Cantor if there were reliable evidence. I did not work on this WP:FA, but I would assume that this issue was researched thoroughly and that no conclusion could be drawn. If there is a definitive resolution of this issue (not just one more citation in favor of his being Jewish), I hope someone—perhaps the anonymous author of the note above—will supply it and this section can be rewritten accordingly. Finell (Talk) 00:58, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
Roger that. A great deal of research did go into this article and in particular to that aspect. If anyone can prove cantor's Jewishness, feel free to publish in a major journal. BTW, IIRC the imputed Jewish line was from his mother's side, making the Jewish-sounding surname "Cantor" irrlevant. -- Ling.Nut 01:01, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Every reasonably written history of mathematics makes a clear point of emphasizing Cantor's Jewish identity (see, for example, Carl Boyer's competent study wherein it is Cantor's father who is a convert and it is his mother having gentile origins). Historiography is not as straight forward as the amateur historians herein would purport to assert. One has to put Cantor in the context of the period in Jewish history in which he lived. Cantor lived at the time when the failed "German-Jewish symbiosis" was still believed possible. It was a time when the poet Heinrich Heine could, and did, assert that conversion to christianity was "the ticket of admission into European culture." The same is also manifestly true of Cantor. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:06, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
So I would point out first, just at the level of logic, that if being Jewish is, as you say, a "nationality" rather than a "religion", then there's no obvious reason it should exclude being a Christian (which, I hope everyone agrees, is not a nationality). So your remarks about "Christianization" would seem to be a bit of a non-sequitur.
As to the other points -- it's plausible that Cantor might have suppressed a Jewish identity that he actually felt, in order to advance his career. But you haven't provided any individualized evidence that this happened, and neither has anyone else on this page. So it's just speculation. Same for the choice of "aleph" -- with no record of why Cantor chose a Hebrew letter, we simply don't know the reason.
Now if you're claiming that Cantor feigned a Christian faith that he did not hold, in order to advance his career, I'm sorry, that's beyond speculation. That just flat out doesn't make sense based on what we know. If you're a hypocrite trying to get in good with the powers that be, maybe you go to church, take communion, fast at the appropriate times, all of that. You don't engage in theological debate with the church hierarchy, trying to convince them that they're wrong about the nature of the infinite. Doesn't seem like a good strategy for getting promoted.
So while we can't really know what was in his heart, surely the evidence that Cantor was a sincere Christian is extremely compelling. As I say, that does not exclude that he was in some ways, or by some definitions, Jewish. I think the article does a good job of presenting what is known on that point, and keeping the length of the discussion proportional to the influence the point appears to have had on Cantor's life and work. --Trovatore 07:22, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
Indeed, logic. I asserted that Jewish identity is not just a religion, as in merely a religion, it is a complex composite of characteristics. At its core Jews are the children of Jacob, who was renamed by God: Israel; thus Jews are Israelites; a family, if you will. Those antagonistic to Jews and Judaism frequently, starting in Cantor's time, chose to identify Jews as a "race"; and even had a pseudo-science to support their confused nonsense. Cantor makes a well documented assertion to the effect that he is decended from Israelites. Again, one must not take Cantor out of his historical context: the Jews of Germany were converting, en masse, to all forms of christian superstition to advance themselves "Out of the Ghetto." (This was the first time in a 1,000 years that Jews were gaining residency rights in the German lands, (the last time, as a community, having such rights was in the Carolingian Empire); and an implicit requirement was that they cease being Jews and become Germans. It must be recalled that the Nuremburg Laws reflect the fact that converts were still to be considered Jews up to three generations, even if these same Jews were christian clerics. As to your assertion: "You don't engage in theological debate with the church hierarchy, trying to convince them that they're wrong about the nature of the infinite. Doesn't seem like a good strategy for getting promoted." Alas, it is a characteristic of the Ashkenazi Jews to be quarrelsome. Cantor, whether you like it or not, (and you appear not to like it), is part of Jewish history. I recall Oscar Wilde writing: "the truth is rarely pure and never simple." Logic, indeed.
Many German Jews may well have made superficial conversions to Christianity to advance themselves, but you don't have the slightest scrap of individualized evidence that Cantor did so, and there's much individualized evidence against it (e.g. the correspondence between Cantor and his father, referred to in the article). Cantor's paternal grandfather, maybe; even that would be speculation, but at least it's not directly refuted by the evidence we have at hand. What the Nuremberg Laws claimed is irrelevant to our evaluation of Cantor's belief system (even if they had been in force during his lifetime, which they weren't).
As to Cantor being part of Jewish history, well, that's a separate question. If your point was that the article omits Cantor's influence on Jewish history, you could have simply said so, without the anti-Christian slurs. --Trovatore 21:43, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
The Nuremburg Laws reflected a deep uneasiness among "Germans" that the mass conversions of Jews in the previous century had distorted their identity; that the nazis identified as "Aryan." The article, in its present form, lacks historical rigor; a very amatuer job I'm afraid. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:51, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, as far as I know few if any of us who've worked on the article are professional historians (more are probably mathematicians), so yes, it's an amateur job. Are you a professional historian? It seems unlikely, given that you can't even spell Nuremberg correctly, but if so, why don't you tell us who you are? --Trovatore 21:56, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

RE Cantor's religion: Quote from Martin Davis 2000 Engines of Logic

From Martin Davis 2000, Engines of Logic: Mathematicians and the Origin of the Computer, W. W. Norton & Company, NY, ISBN:0-393-322229-7 pbk.

"...Georg Cantor was born in 1845 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Cantor's mother, Marie Böhm, came from a distinguished musical family, and she herself was an accomplished musician. His father, George Waldemar Cantor, was born in Copenhagen, but was brought to St. Petersburg as a child. it is believed that he was raised and educated there in a Lutheran Evangelical mission. Although Marie had been baptized a Roman Catholic, she also adhered to the Evangelcial Church after her marriage, and Georg Cantor and his three siblings were raised in that faith.5 (Davis 2000:62)

"5For biographical information about Cantor, I have relied on [Grattan-Guiness], [Purkert-Ilgauds], and [Meschkowski]" (p. 217)
Grattin-Guinness, I. "Towards a Biography of Georg Cantor," Annals of Science, vol. 27 (1971), pp. 345-91.
Purkert, W. and H. J. Ilgauds. Georg Cantor: 1845-1918, Vita mathematica, vol. 1. Stuttgart: Birkhauser, 1987.
Meschkowski, H. Georg Cantor: Leben, Werk, und Wirkung. Mannheim: Bibliographisches Institut, 1983.

wvbaileyWvbailey 15:30, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Cantor's birth place

In the opening section of Cantor's article it is mentioned that he was a "German mathematician". However, it is noteworthy that parenthetically his birth place (Russia) should be mentioned as well, probably in the same bracts in which his life time is- in the customary style.--Gilisa (talk) 15:06, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

That info is in the very first sentence after the WP:LEDE. Moreover, we've already had longish discussions about whether he was "German" or "Russian". Quite frankly, I suggest that we simply leave it as it is. He was born in Russia but generally considered himself German.. although.. well never mind. Let's not fight this battle again... --Ling.Nut (talk) 15:35, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
I think that being born in certain place doesn’t mean, at least not for sure, any thing about the way in which some one would identify himself many years later. More, what I was suggesting is to mention Cantor's birth and death places in the leading section (not after!) as it is in other wikipedia's biographical articles, not to conclude that he was Russian nor German. --Gilisa (talk) 16:20, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
Which articles? --Ling.Nut (talk) 23:10, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
I should ask you first, why there is any problem with mentioning the countries, or the cities, in which he was born and died, near his birth and death dates respectively. I really don't see how it make any statement about his nationality-on the contrary, it is just to mention neutral facts. Articles for example, if it is really needed, are these:Vitaly Ginzburg, Sheldon Lee Glashow, David Gross, Carl Wilhelm Oseen, Stephen Parke, Hermann Haken, Gerardus 't Hooft and etc-off course, there are also other examples and counter examples-but I don't think that a controversy about mentioning some one birth and/or death places in the leading section ever been. Best--Gilisa (talk) 17:31, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

(undent) Hi Gilisa.. the way that I read the relevant section of the manual of Style (in this case Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Dates of birth and death) is that the articles you linked to are formatted incorrectly... the locations of the birthplace of the subject of the biography should not be in the parentheses along with the date. You can try to use the words "was a Russian-born German, linking to Russia, but sooner or later someone will complain. In fact, I'll do it right now. Looking forward to the eventual objections... Later! Ling.Nut (talk) 06:18, 25 November 2007 (UTC)

Hi Ling.Nut, I think that it would be better if you revert your last edit to the former status. To me, this one seems to complicate the things.--Gilisa (talk) 07:59, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

Strengthening the "lede" -- Cantor's fame and importance

I cc'd a piece of this from Trovatore's talk page, before this falls into and disappears down the bottomless pit of "the archives":

...The other issue I mentioned on G-guy's talk may be closer to your heart.. some text was removed the WP:LEDE that may be quite germane to the article (G-guy thought it was).. see farther up his Talk, but hurry, before he archives it ;-) Later --Ling.Nut 06:23, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Ooops he has already archived it; see this. later --Ling.Nut 06:43, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
This is a response to Ling.Nut's question about a source for the "paradigm shift", at least I think that is what is in question. I found these quotes in Anglin 1994:213 from his brief chapter about Cantor (when I read the article it did not seem to emphasize Cantor's importance as much as I would have expected. So here are some strong quotables):
"Empiricist philosphers, such as Hobbes, Locke, and Hume, had convinced some mathematicians, such as Gauss, that there is no infinite in mathematics. Thanks to Georg Cantor (1845-1918), however, almost every mathematician now accepts the infinite. Georg Cantor single-handedly produced a clear and ocomplete theory of the infinite that answers all the objections previously raised by anti-infinity philosphers, and which has become the basis of contemporary mathematics."(p. 213)
"History, however, has judged Cantor to be one of the most original and important mathematicans of all time. The opening sentence in Michael Hallett's Cantorian Set Theory and Limitation of Size is not an exaggeration:
" 'Cantor was the founder of the mathematical theory of the infinite, and so one might with justice call him the founder of modern mathematics. '" (ibid)
I'd recommend a strengthening of the "lede" with something to the effect of these quotes. They came from W.S. Anglin 1994, Mathematics: A Concise History and Philosophy, Springer-Verlag, NY, ISBN 0-387-94280-7. Bill Wvbailey (talk) 18:38, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

moved here from there by Wvbailey 04:04, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

The ancestry section and asking for neutral expert opinion

This what is cited there:

:"..."Even if we were descended from Jews ten times over, and even though I may be, in principle, completely in favor of equal rights for Hebrews, in social life I prefer Christians..."

The "even if we were" is clearly implying that she (Cantor's mother) was speaking hypothetically only, however- Jewish Information site citing some sources, more known and more up-to-date one must to say, of the same correspondence [16] (feel free to ignore the site commentaries but not the sources it gave) :

"In a recent book, The Mystery of the Aleph: Mathematics, the Kabbalah, and the Search for Infinity (Four Walls Eight Windows, New York, 2000, pp. 94, 144), Amir Aczel provides new evidence concerning the ancestry of Cantor's mother in the form of an excerpt from a letter that was written by Georg Cantor's brother Ludwig to their mother [reproduced in its entirety, but in French translation from the original German, by Nathalie Charraud in her book Infini et Inconscient: Essai sur Georg Cantor (Anthropos - Economica, Paris, 1994, p. 8)]. This letter begins [in the original German, a fragment of which appears in Georg Cantor: 1845-1918, by Walter Purkert and Hans Joachim Ilgauds (Birkhäuser, Basel, 1987, p. 15)]: "Mögen wir zehnmal von Juden abstammen und ich im Princip noch so sehr für Gleichberechtigung der Hebräer sein, im socialen Leben sind mir Christen lieber ..." The translation of this sentence is: "We may be descended from Jews ten times over and I (may be) in principle ever so much for the equal rights of the Hebrews, (but) in social life I prefer Christians...," or equivalently: "Even though we are descended from Jews ten times over and I am in principle ever so much for the equal rights of the Hebrews, in social life I still prefer Christians..."
Charraud renders the (complete) sentence in a slightly different manner as follows: "Même si c'est dix fois vrai que nous descendons de juifs et si je suis en principe entièrement pour l'égalité des droits avec les Hébreux, dans la vie sociale je préfère les chrétiens et je ne me sentirai jamais à l'aise dans une société exclusivement juive."
Later on in the same letter, Ludwig states: "Mais nous sommes, bien que je possède moi-même un nez juif, dans nos principes et nos habitudes tellement non-juifs...," which translates as: "But we are - even though I myself possess Jewish features - so non-Jewish in our principles and customs..." In other words, Ludwig is arguing that even though the family is ethnically Jewish, it is culturally non-Jewish.
What is significant about this letter, as Aczel first pointed out, is that it was written to the mother of Georg Cantor and would, therefore, have made little sense if she hadn't herself been of Jewish descent. According to Ismerjükoket?: zsidó származású nevezetes magyarok arcképcsarnoka, by István Reményi Gyenes (Ex Libris, Budapest, 1997, pp. 132-133), Cantor's maternal great uncle (i.e., the brother of his maternal grandfather), the great violin pedagogue Josef Böhm, was a Jew by birth. .."

More on that matter, Walter Purkert and Hans Joachim Ilgauds are not correctly cited (in non of the versions there is " Even if we were", it's look like an original contribution of one Wikipedian which biased the all issue to one direction only), and I cant understand why does the present wording had any priority over the sources mentioned above that was presented in this article much before this one, at least in this context. It may be however that a translation disagreement, at least between the cited sources, is responsible for it. Hence, I suggest that this issue would be addressed by an admin (or two) who's native tongue is German and that his/her neutrality and abilities in this kind of tasks are not doubted.--Gilisa (talk) 20:26, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

According to WP:RSUE when the original material is in a language other than English:
  • Where sources are directly quoted, published translations are generally preferred over editors performing their own translations directly.
  • Where editors use their own English translation of a non-English source as a quote in an article, there should be clear citation of the foreign-language original, so that readers can check what the original source said and the accuracy of the translation.

That is, each of the translations above is preferred over the present one.--Gilisa (talk) 21:04, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Hmm, are you counting "web published" as "published"? I'm not sure whether that's what the policy means, though I suppose it depends on the website somewhat. I have to say that Charraud's même si sounds like "even if" to me (compare Italian anche se, which direcly would be aussi si, but that's probably disfavored for reasons of euphony). My German is not good enough to give an opinion on mögen. I would like to hear from a native German speaker, or see a reliable traditionally published translation, or ideally both.
Though I suppose this is mainly for curiosity's sake. This whole discussion is about a tiny nuance in the presentation of a secondary piece of evidence related to a dispute that has little evident relevance to Cantor's life or work in the first place. I know that you, Gilisa, suspect me of not "wanting" Cantor to be Jewish, but that's simply not true. I want the article to present accurately what is known, in as little space as reasonably possible. --Trovatore (talk) 21:56, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

It's a little nuance for you- I accept this. And regarding Cantor's work-it probably didn't have much influence over it (but the article is a biographical one and usually these kinds of articles include these kinds of issues). However, I didn't said or knew that you are the responsible for this wording-and I didn't tried to figure out who word it this way (nor that I see it as a kind of accusation), take my word on this.--Gilisa (talk) 22:09, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Oh no, I'm not the one who provided that wording. I have little interest in editing the ethnic heritage content, which doesn't interest me much, unless I think it's becoming inaccurate, non-neutral, or too long, in which case I might reluctantly have to take some sort of position. I don't think which translation is used is a very important issue for the article. However as long as it's the topic currently under discussion we might as well get it right, so I'm still hoping to hear from a native German speaker. --Trovatore (talk) 22:17, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
"Même si c'est dix fois vrai que nous", as I understand it means "even if it's ten times of us" (and keep in mind that this is already a translation from German to French and now we are Translate it for are self to english, and any why-this is not about one or two woeds but about the way in which it combine in this one sentence and change it's meaning). regarding the German sentence wir means "us" and zehnmal "ten times"-but I don't know much better than that. Any way, I don't see "were" anywhere and there is a huge difference between "Even if we are" and "Even if we were"- you know it. It's not about the website, but about the reliable sources, the best too find, it gave. Regarding the Native German speaker-he/she should meet the criterions I mentioned before and any way-if there is sourced translations, and there are (above) they are preferred (WP policy) so it's only for curiosity I guess. And I know that ethnical issues are not of your main concern, you told it more than once.--Gilisa (talk) 22:25, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, the website didn't give a source for any English translation unless I missed something. I agree that même si c'est dix fois vrai looks more like "even if it is ten times true" than "even if it were ten times true" (the latter would probably be Même si c'etait...), but this is still different from the "even though" formulation given by the website. --Trovatore (talk) 22:51, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, I might missed something (or you do)-I don't see any translation of the French translation in what I was citing from the website...they only wrote this:"...Charraud renders the (complete) sentence in a slightly different manner as follows: "Même si c'est dix fois vrai que nous descendons de juifs et si je suis en principe entièrement pour l'égalité des droits avec les Hébreux, dans la vie sociale je préfère les chrétiens et je ne me sentirai jamais à l'aise dans une société exclusivement juive."..Later on in the same letter" and so on.--Gilisa (talk) 22:59, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
The question is, where does the English text on the website come from? The way it's worded, it could come from Aczel's book, but that is not stated explicitly. It's also possible that Aczel quotes the French, and that the English is provided by the website. --Trovatore (talk) 23:03, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, it's late in night over here-I hope you dont mind we'll continue it tomorrow...--Gilisa (talk) 23:08, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't have a fairly good answer for it, even if it seems like they took it from Aczel's book itself. Any way, as far as I can recall, in German "even if" is "sogar wienn" and "sulbst wienn" is "even though" - it may be that there are other ways to say it, that's only the one way I know, but it don't seems possible to me that Mögen is something else other than "may be"and if so, than it have a complete different meaning from both "even if" and "even though"..--Gilisa (talk) 07:39, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
When I looked at the website again, you're right that there was no indication that the translation went through the French, and it seems that it probably came from the Aczel book, though they didn't actually say so. In any case it seems a reasonable (if slightly loose) rendering of the French (can't say about the German). So I'm happy with it for now, but if someone has Aczel's book and can check, that would be a good thing -- I'm a little uncomfortable that we have a translation that came from somewhere, but we don't know for sure just where. --Trovatore (talk) 18:16, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

(undent) Just as a guideline for discussion, I emailed a native speaker of German. Here's his reply:

'That's a tough one. "Wir" suggests that the speaker identifies himself with the number of people referred to as "abstammend von Juden". The question is: Does he mean "we the Christian people", "we the Germans", "we the baptized Jews" or something different? I can't positively tell whether the speaker is of Jewish ancestry or isn't. That would be my suggestion ...'

Ling.Nut (talk) 02:39, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

We are prone to expect that all the quotations will be attached with online articles-this is logical, because Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia. Still, not always this is possible and in these cases, it's ok to rely on online sources, multiple and varied as much as possible, that are quoted the same not –online source. Regarding to the email correspondence you, Ling.Nut, brought here- it seems odd to me that he/she can't figure out with who the writer identified herself, and any way "Mögen" means "may be" (I now sure about it) so who ever she identifies herself with, there is "may be" or "possible" issue about it any way (and there are only two possible identities in this letter non-Jewish people (referred as Christian people) and Jews/Hebrews. I would prefer to see a full translation-if we have here on Wikipedia, a professional translator user that can give a hand, it would be excellent.--Gilisa (talk) 10:36, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

The "Mögen" is a tricky one. Literally, it means "may be". However, it also carries a subjunctive nuance. Thus: "[Even] though we may be..." or "Were we ten times...". Word order is relevant here: "We may" is "Wir mögen"; "mögen wir" makes it clear that this is a secondary clause, not a stand-alone statement.

I suppose the current version may be perfectly fine, but it is hardly the case that "Even if we were..." makes it clear that Cantor's brother or my neighbour's cat had no ancestors with property X or Y: nobody *can* be descended from anything ten times over!

My personal impression is that this is a deliberately ambiguous sentence, and that, if its writer had thought the extent to which the condition is fulfilled to be all-important, he would have written the sentence differently. (talk) 07:38, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

PS. While I can speak German, no, I am not a professional translator. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:48, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

:What are you saying, you are not a professional translator? It's a shock, but I'll come over it. Any way-why don't you sign in officially, using a user name-it will make your commentaries, potentially at least, more valuable. Now, did you took a minute to think about the special condition in which Cantor's mother could been through? I mean, she was Christian by her official registration but on the same hand she might been ethnically Jewish (she is not a life to ask her- but her son did complain that he have Jewish physical features, which conflicted with his non-Jewish selfidentiication)-Now, this kind of identities should raised problems from time to time and to me it sounds like this is what the letter was addressing to. Possible, isn't it? From my side I'm trying now to figure out what is the most probable translation-I'm waiting for answers now. BTW-did someone heard about Google's Wikipedia like project? It will include, for example, professional translations and articles which will be closed for external edits –sounds great :)--Gilisa (talk) 21:44, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Gilisa, if you start engaging in speculation about Cantor's mother's social status & situation etc. then you are on a direct course for WP:OR. That needs to be avoided. Ling.Nut (talk) 02:26, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

:::Ling.Nut, please take a look again on the comment I was replying to (to the one who didn't wanted to identified himself)-it was full of speculations and I just only exampled him (I think) how I can make them to the opposite direction as well-actually using less speculations and making a clear distinction between what is my commentary and what are the facts, what I suggest and done is to translate the sentence as it is-leave the commentary to the readers or to here, to the talk pages-here, Ling.Nut-I hope you didn't forgot it, it is still not a violation of WP:OR.--Gilisa (talk) 06:44, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

As I might just don't quite understand what user ( exactly meant-I'm taking all of my words back- if he can rephrase it, that would be for the better.--Gilisa (talk) 11:36, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
i sent email to Gisela Brett, who is a translator listed on the list of translators published by the German Consultate in New York, and is listed as being certified by both the US Department of State and the New York Courts. Her translation of "Mögen wir zehnmal von Juden abstammen und ich im Princip noch so sehr für Gleichberechtigung der Hebräer sein, im socialen Leben sind mir Christen lieber ..." is "Even if we descend one hundred percent from Jews and even if in principle I am very much in favor of equal rights for Hebrews, in my social life I prefer to be with Christians...". Quaeler (talk) 21:06, 17 December 2007 (UTC)


I was looking for author George Cantor. He doesn't yet have his own page, but this was not what I was looking for... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:56, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

A brief web search turns up a sports writer from Detroit; is that who you mean? I never heard of him before, but my first impression is that he's probably notable enough for an article given the number of books. You might want to start a stub on George Cantor (sportswriter), and then you could put the following code at the top of this article:
{{redirect|George Cantor|the sportswriter|George Cantor (sportswriter)}}
I don't think it would be a good idea to just call the article "George Cantor" as unfortunately a fair number of sources, particularly British ones, refer to the mathematician that way, and the mathematician is almost certainly going to be the primary referent for the name. --Trovatore (talk) 21:47, 21 February 2008 (UTC)
Oh, I should say: The template code I suggested would produce the following line at the top of the article:
"George Cantor" redirects here. For the sportswriter, see George Cantor (sportswriter).
--Trovatore (talk) 22:05, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Hilbert reference

I need to rant a little here. I was looking for a reference for the quote "No one shall expel us from the Paradise that Cantor has created" and found that it was quoted here. But when I looked at the reference, it points to some book in 1996, half a century after Hilbert died! I would expect an article on history to cite the original publication or address in which each quote was made. I'm not sure how the FA reviewers missed this. — Carl (CBM · talk) 13:42, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

Found the original source in Google books. I have no access to the original. You want it anyway? Ling.Nut (talkWP:3IAR) 13:52, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
Twice by Hilbert, apparently; one is in Wikiquote David_Hilbert Ling.Nut (talkWP:3IAR) 13:56, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
And in the German wikipedia: „Aus dem Paradies, das Cantor uns geschaffen, soll uns niemand vertreiben können.“ (David Hilbert)<ref>David Hilbert: ''Über das Unendliche'', Mathematische Annalen 95 (1926), S. 170 </ref>
Thanks for copying that info here. I was really just ranting about the fact that the FA review process didn't notice the problem that a quote from Hilbert that anyone with a tiny amount of background could find the original source for was cited to a biography published in 1996. I'll edit the footnote, since you graciously provided the info. — Carl (CBM · talk) 14:28, 9 October 2008 (UTC)


It may be of interest to mention the monument in Halle depicting Cantor and three other scientists at the Univeristy of Halle. In the last episode of The Story of Maths (aired on BBC4, Nov 2nd, 2008), Marcus du Sautoy visits this monument (see detailed description in English towards the end of that page), which is in the form of a large cube with a portrait of Cantor on it (and on the other faces of the cube, the three other scientists of the University of Halle). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:55, 2 November 2008 (UTC)