Classical Mathematics: A Concise History of the Classical Era in Mathematics

Classical Mathematics: A Concise History of the Classical Era in Mathematics

Classical Mathematics: A Concise History of the Classical Era in Mathematics

Classical Mathematics: A Concise History of the Classical Era in Mathematics

Excerpt

Nec minor est virtus, quam quaerere, parta tueri.
Ovid, Ars Amandi, lib. II, 13.

1. Descartes ( 1596-1650 )

In contrast to the preceding periods of development which were characterized by the coexistence of great numbers of individually gifted personalities within the same type of environment, the mathematics of the High Baroque period was marked by the emergence of several leading spirits of genius, who, in the space of a few decades, brought about a complete change in the interpretation of science. It now became a matter, not merely of improving practical methods of application, but rather of establishing a comprehensive systematic structure of scientific thought, to be constructed with mathematics as its model. To make this possible it was necessary, first of all, to transform the mosaic of conceptions arrayed starkly side by side into a selfcontained system determined by consistent tendencies.

Even for Copernicus (1473-1543) the point in question was the construction of a new system of astronomy and, indeed, of revitalizing and transforming ancient notions. Kepler (1571- 1630) abandoned tradition as a basis and followed intuition at the crucial point. Plausible conjectures made on the grounds of . . .

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