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"Abraham, Planter of Mathematics"

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Author Topic: "Abraham, Planter of Mathematics"  (Read 462 times)
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« on: October 14, 2008, 10:31:05 pm »

The Egyptian period that followed, Ramus noted, had witnessed increased sophistication of mathematical knowledge. Ancient Egyptians used mathematics for commercial and mercantile purposes, and for surveying flooded lands. Thales of Miletus transported mathematics from the Egyptians to the Greeks, inaugurating the third age. The final age was emerging in Ramus's time, a rehabilitation of mathematical knowledge similar to the Reformation.

Ramus, Vergil, and other humanists such as Joannes Stadius, Heinrich Rantzau, and Matthew Dresserus agreed on a history of mathematics that traced its origins to the Hebrew Fathers in ancient Assyria.26 This polemic [End Page 97] emerged in England in the last two decades of Elizabeth I's reign, when Bacon was just beginning his career in London. The orthodoxy and utility of mathematics were heavily debated in London at this time, and the issue of the origins of mathematics too faced close scrutiny.

London was a thriving metropolis, flooded with continental texts, and if Bacon did not encounter the history of mathematics from European scholars, local texts too would have offered him cogent histories of mathematics and astrology. The discussion in England surfaced early in 1583, when Richard Harvey's famous apocalyptic prognostication An Astrological Discourse appeared in London. This mathematical and astrological prophecy forecast massive upheaval and turbulence beginning that very spring. The disorder, Harvey claimed, would swell, culminating with a thunderous crescendo in 1588, after which the world would be profoundly and irrevocably altered.27
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Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.

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