By Stuart Brown
First released in 1981. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.
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Extra resources for Conceptions of Inquiry
Mathematics cannot be defined without acknowledging its most obvious feature: namely, that it is interesting. Nowhere is intellectual beauty so deeply felt and fastidiously appreciated in its various MATHEMATICS AS ETERNAL TRUTH 33 grades and qualities as in mathematics, and only the informal appreciation of mathematical value can distinguish what is mathematics from a welter of formally similar, yet altogether trivial statements and operations. And we shall see that this emotional colour of mathematics also justifies its acceptance as true.
For if this passion were extinct, we would cease to understand mathematics; its conceptions would dissolve and its proofs carry no conviction. Mathematics would become pointless and would lose itself in a welter of insignificant tautologies and of Heath Robinson operations, from which it could no longer be distinguished. Mathematics has once already fallen into oblivion by becoming incomprehensible. C. there occurred a break in the oral tradition which alone made the mathematical texts of the Greeks intelligible to students.
4 MATHEMATICS AS LANGUAGE LANCELOT HOGBEN (1895–1975), from Mathematics for the Million, London, George Allen & Unwin, 1936, pp. 26–8 To describe mathematics as a language is sometimes just a way of speaking, with no further implications for mathematical inquiry. When Galileo, for example, said in quite a detailed metaphor: Philosophy is written in this grand book, the universe, which stands continually open to our gaze. But the book cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and read the letters in which it is composed.