18th-century Mathematician Quotes
This is what it behoves us to know: as Frenchmen, for the advantage of France; as friends of all humanity, by that just and generous sentiment which makes us feel interest in the dignity, the peace, the independence, the happiness of all nations, on whatever spot of the globe nature may have placed their country.
The infinitely small neither have nor can have theory; it is a dangerous instrument in the hands of beginners [...] anticipating, for my part, the judgement of posterity, I would dare predict that this method will be accused one day, and rightly, of having retarded the progress of the mathematical sciences.
The processes of nature lie so deep, that, after all the pains we can take, much, perhaps, will remain undiscovered beyond the reach of human art or skill. But this is no reason why we should give ourselves up to the belief of fictions, be they ever so ingenious, instead of hearkening to the unerring voice of nature...
It is to the influence of the opinion of those whom the multitude judges best informed and to whom it has been accustomed to give its confidence in regard to the most important matters of life that the propagation of those errors [pertaining to errors of truth] is due which in times of ignorance have covered the face of the earth.
To history we shall adhere no farther, than is sufficient to preserve an unbroken series of methods gradually becoming more exact and extensive; the series beginning with the first rude, though perfectly just, method of James Bernoulli, and ending with Lagrange's exquisite and refined Calculus of Variations.
It is not scholarship alone, but scholarship impregnated with religion, that tells on the great mass of society. We have no faith in the efficacy of mechanic's institutes, or even of primary and elementary schools, for building up a virtuous and well conditioned peasantry, so long as they stand dissevered from the lessons of Christian piety.