kitchen table math, the sequel: God's soldiers

Saturday, August 1, 2009

God's soldiers

Voltaire, eager to undermine the claims of conventional religion by contrasting the infighting of the Catholic Church with the sedate purity, unity and rationality of the students of Euclid, boasted that there were no sects among geometers. This, with the arrival of non-Euclidean geometry in the next century, would prove to be overly optimistic, but more important, invoking geometry as some kind of antithesis of revealed religion was a rhetorical mistake. After all, some of the best geometers of the past two centuries (including Christopher Clavius, the author of the preeminent early-modern version of Euclid's Elements; including Fracois d'Auilon; including Giovanni Girolamo Saccheri, author of books which, after a period of long neglect, would help lay the basis for non-Euclidean geometry) were Jesuits.

God's Soldiers: Adventure Politics, Intrigue, and Power -- A History of the Jesuits
by Jonathan Wright
p. 193-194


Barry Garelick said...

Just had a discussion with someone about geometry. It's true that it should be taught with proofs because of the value of learning that. But geometry should also be taught because it's geometry.

Barry Garelick said...

Not that the above has anything to do with what you said. But I just thought I'd point out the obvious.

MagisterGreen said...

mèdeis ageômetrètos eisitô mou tèn stegèn

"Let no one ignorant of geometry enter here." - inscription above the entry to Plato's Academy

SteveH said...

And I'm now finding that I have to learn all about geometric algebra or Clifford algebra over a real vector space. With math, I'm always finding out how ignorant I am.

I don't want to discover this. I'm trying to do the opposite; find some source that will explain it to me in really simple terms. I want a framework or something that will tie it in with what I already know. I will have many discoveries even when some book or paper tells me exactly what is going on. In fact, I'm trying to discover the easiest way to learn the material. I would be really annoyed if a teacher put up additional roadblocks.

I don't need to grope around for the light switch, just turn on the stupid light for me!

Catherine Johnson said...

Steve - you've got to see Entre les murs when it's available with subtitles.

You'll love the Esmeralda moment, where she tells the teacher, "If I knew the answer I wouldn't have asked the question."

Catherine Johnson said...

With math, I'm always finding out how ignorant I am.

I actually found myself thinking, just the other day, HOW MUCH MATH ***IS*** THERE???????

Catherine Johnson said...

ALEKS kinda does that to you.

I'm beginning to think I will NEVER be finished with ALEKS Algebra 1.

I am, however, 20 topics away from completing geometry.

Catherine Johnson said...

I've been doing proofs!

Catherine Johnson said...

I even have my own fancy French Travaux Pratiques to write my proofs in.