How many angels can dance on the head of a pin meaning

angels dancing on the head of a pin

See also: angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin


  • 1 English
    • 1.1 Etymology
    • 1.2 Noun
      • 1.2.1 Translations
      • 1.2.2 See also


English Wikipedia has an article on:

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?



An allusion to the theological question “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” — a question cited to debunk mediaeval angelology in particular and scholasticism in general. The point is that explorative discussions that the discussants consider important can be academic in both senses of that word—not only arcane but also irrelevant.


angels dancing on the head of a pin pl (plural only)

  1. (figuratively) The subject of arcane intellectual speculation; used as an example subject of enquiry the pursuit of which is of no value.
    • 1965, United States Congress House Government Operations, Procurement of a Cryogenic Cooling System for Fighter Aircraft: Hearing, 89-1, June 8–9, 1965, page 47:

      We are not talking about angels dancing on the head of a pin here.

    • 1995, Julian Lincoln Simon, The State of Humanity, page 358:

      …logically indistinguishable from the argument that because we do not know at what rate the angels dancing on the head of a pin are dying off…

    • 2001, William C. Gaventa & David L. Coulter, The Theological Voice of Wolf Wolfensberger, page 6:

      The issues Dr. Wolfensberger wrestles with and writes about are not intellectual discussions of angels dancing on the head of a pin.


arcane intellectual speculation

  • Finnish: neulan kärjellä tanssivat enkelit
  • French: sexe des anges m, le sexe des anges m, querelle byzantine (fr) f
  • Italian: il sesso degli angeli m
  • Portuguese: sexo dos anjos m, o sexo dos anjos m
  • Spanish: el sexo de los ángeles m
See also[edit]
  • angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin
  • count angels on pinheads

What was the origin of the old debate about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? | Notes and Queries

Nooks and crannies
Semantic enigmas
The body beautiful
Red tape, white lies
Speculative science
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Root of all evil
Ethical conundrums
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What was the origin of the old debate about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

  • THIS POETICAL and interesting question was raised by Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). He is known as the Father of Moral Philosophy and also as the Angelic Doctor because of his preoccupation with the qualities, nature and behaviour of these celestial beings. He was canonised in 1323.

    Muriel Cottrell, Wirral, Merseyside.

  • IT IS OFTEN used disparagingly about theological speculation. In a long past BBC Brains Trust session, the late Prof C. E. M. Joad used the expression in that way. The following week he was firmly denounced for loose thinking by a listener who claimed, with apparent authority, that there was no evidence that this subject was ever debated. On the other hand, he said, monks in medieval times would, purely as a recreation, hold rigidly structured debates on all kinds of unlikely subjects. So the "angels" debate could have originated from such a source. Joad had, it seemed, no answer to that. Nor have I - it just stays in the memory from the old Brains Trust days.

    Stephen Fearnley, Halifax, W Yorks.

  • I WAS interested to read the comments on this dispute. However, I think the idea behind it was whether angels had dimensions and occupied space. If they did not, then clearly an infinity of angels could dance on the sharpest, most needle-fine point. Milton gets round the difficulty most beautifully in Book One of Paradise Lost when he makes the Fallen Angels appear first "In bigness to surpass Earth's Giant Sons' and then to "throng numberless' in Pandemonium like tiny elves - "incorporeal Spirits".

    Laura Garratt, Uxbridge, Middx.

  • Laura Garrett is halfway there. The 'size of angels' is important as an answer to this question : is God bound by the physical laws of His universe ( ie. a finite number of angels ) or is He able to transcend his own laws and thereby fit an infinite number of angels on a pin ? Obviously this applies generally and not just to angels and pins, and so is quite an important question. Probably.

    John Mys, Birmingham, UK

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How many angels can dance on a pinhead? or who else is interested in theoretical physics?

How many angels can dance on a pinhead? or who else is interested in theoretical physics?
July 26, 2009

(Z. K. Silagadze)
"Does this question make you smile? And there was a time when such questions were the subject of heated debate among prominent scholastics. One of them, Duns Scotus (1265–1308), immortalized his name even in modern English ( English "dunce" - "stupid") [ 1]. If your smile from this blurred even more, then in vain. Duns Scotus was by no means stupid. In 1305 in Paris, he even defended his doctoral dissertation, in which he defended (against Thomist Dominicans) the original purity of the Blessed Virgin Mary [ 2 ]. At the same time, according to legend, the marble statue of the Virgin nodded her head approvingly [ 2 ]. but decided to demand henceforth from all those seeking an academic degree, an oath confession of faith in the immaculate conception [2]. Isn't it time to remind our HAC-y about this?0021 For a long time I have not come across such a wonderful presentation in the spirit of Perelman the most complex concepts and their synthesis: "Although physics is considered the crown of rationality and far from Eastern mysticism, its answer, if only found among the all-destroying modern magazine sheets, turns out to be no less entertaining and more striking than the answer of art. "
From Angels to Thermodynamics of Black Holes, - through bits of information... "I think, therefore I exist!", - But what does it mean to Think? This is information processing. Therefore, it is not surprising that John Archibald Wheeler brought the idea of ​​Descartes to its logical conclusion: “Being is given by a beat”...
Read more:
With the enthusiasm of a beginner, Jack turned to the Master with a request: “Could you explain to me the essence of Buddhist teachings in a few sentences?” Kalu Rinpoche answered: “I could do it, but you will not believe me, and it will take you many years to understand what I am talking about.” However, Jack politely insisted, “But anyway, please explain. I really want to know that!” Kalu Rinpoche's answer was very short: “You don't really exist” [ 27 ]. nine0021 In his remarkable work of 1975, Hawking posed this question point-blank and caused a real crisis in physics [28]. The point is that, according to quantum mechanics, "manuscripts don't burn"
Yes, you don't really exist behind this fence. But take a closer look, relax, defocus your vision, and suddenly a fallen angel smiles at you from behind the fence and asks a tricky question what happens to angelic information when there are too many dancing angels on a pinhead and they fall into a black hole;)

Tags: star rain, illusion, science, psychophysics, relaxation

Meaning, Definition, Suggestions . What are pinheads

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Meaning of the word "PIN"

See all meanings of the word "PIN"

Meaning of the word "HEAD"

A group of leaders of an organization, institutions (colloquial).

See all meanings of HEAD0 More results

But he was so small, so silvery, warm-pinhead light!

Personally, I think the change to number two comes down to angels dancing on pinheads, so I have no objection to this change.

How many angels do you or Mrs. Frottingham think can fit on a pinhead? To still have room for dancing? nine0032

If you can store a billion numbers in a pinhead, why throw it away?

In 1907, Pavel Petrovich Wentz engraved the Lord's Prayer on a brass pin head with a diameter of 2 mm.079 inches.

The actual content of this article about Hamnet Shakespeare could be written on a pinhead.

Bulbasaur's article is reminiscent of Roman liturgical scholars debating how many angels can dance on a pinhead. nine0032

When trillions of molecules came from the head of a pin, were there rules for how to build the universe?

These insects, they are very, very tiny - smaller than a pinhead.

Eggs deposited inside plant tissues are usually rice grain-shaped, while other eggs are pinhead-sized, ellipsoidal or nearly spherical in shape.

Nine sequels followed, with Bradley reprising his role as the pinhead in the first seven.

Pinheaded or dog-faced or heartless?

The disease presents as numerous pinhead blisters that rapidly rupture to form painful, irregular ulcers covered with yellow-gray membranes.

Today his work can be done with a chip the size of a pinhead.

There were pinhead grains, but there were twelve dollar nuggets. And most importantly, it was bedrock gold.

High in the sky above the Vatican, a spark the size of a pinhead appeared.

She was so small, about the size of a pinhead, and shone with a warm silvery light. nine0032

A dose the size of a pinhead can kill, and if not enough to kill, completely paralyzes a person for several hours.

If you add some volume to your hair, it won't look like a pinhead.

I look at the head of a pin and see angels dancing.

The first Senobite turned into a Butterball, the second into a pinhead, the third into a talker, and the fourth into a female. nine0032

It is in the same place in the brain of each of you, but we are talking about something smaller than a pin needle.

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