By Daniel J. Cohen

ISBN-10: 0801885531

ISBN-13: 9780801885532

All through historical past, program instead of abstraction has been the trendy driver in arithmetic. From the compass and sextant to partial differential equations, mathematical advances have been spurred via the will for greater navigation instruments, weaponry, and development tools. however the non secular upheaval in Victorian England and the fledgling usa opened the way in which for the rediscovery of natural arithmetic, a practice rooted in old Greece.In Equations from God, Daniel J. Cohen captures the origins of the rebirth of summary arithmetic within the highbrow quest to upward push above universal life and contact the brain of the deity. utilizing an array of released and personal assets, Cohen indicates how philosophers and mathematicians seized upon the attractive simplicity inherent in mathematical legislation to reconnect with the divine and lines the course in which the divinely encouraged arithmetic of the Victorian period begot later secular philosophies. (2007)

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Extra info for Equations from God: Pure Mathematics and Victorian Faith

Sample text

By turning to symbols they believed came from heaven, religious mathematicians felt they could rise above the insecurity and chaotic diversity of human culture. Faced with an age they saw as corrupt and defective, these intellectuals sought to use pure mathematics to cleanse their muddied world. In an odd way, this devotion to the simplicity and transcendence of pure mathematics was thus kindred with the Gothic revival associated with Britons such as John Ruskin and A. W. 104 To use an older comparison, in Augustine’s sense mathematical idealists in the Victorian era saw themselves as a new City of God, a community that spoke a heavenly dialect and was dedicated to the one true faith that spanned the centuries and the barriers of language and culture.

81 As Trevor Levere has summarized Coleridge’s vision of science, “[He] was passionately convinced that the world was not made up of disconnected fragments . . ”82 For Coleridge, idealism therefore offered salvation from troubling modern philosophies by illuminating a universe in which both human consciousness and the external world provided evidence of transcendental divinity. Since scientists expressed their highest laws in the language of mathematics, Coleridge in turn placed that discipline on a lofty pedestal.

They reveled in Plato’s declaration that mathematics was a— or even the—divine language. Moreover, in a less high-minded way many mathematicians also concurred with Plato’s belief that only a few thinkers could ascend to the transcendental state mathematical contemplation and notation promised. 25 Plato’s grander statements about the nature of mathematics perhaps would have drifted into obscurity had they not been highlighted centuries after his death by the Hellenic philosopher Proclus (ca. 410 –485).

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Equations from God: Pure Mathematics and Victorian Faith by Daniel J. Cohen


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