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Eric Temple Bell -
Mathematics
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The mistakes and unresolved difficulties of the past in mathematics have always been the opportunities of its future; and should analysis ever appear to be without or blemish, its perfection might only be that of death.
Eric Temple Bell
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It is the perennial youthfulness of mathematics itself which marks it off with a disconcerting immortality from the other sciences.
Eric Temple Bell
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The so-called obvious was repeatedly scrutinized from every angle and was frequently found to be not obvious but false. "Obvious" is the most dangerous word in mathematics.
Eric Temple Bell
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With a literature much vaster than those of algebra and arithmetic combined, and as least as extensive as that of analysis, geometry is a richer treasure house of more interesting and half-forgotten things, which a hurried generation has no leisure to enjoy, than any other division of mathematics
Eric Temple Bell
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The task of cleaning up mathematics and salvaging whatever can be saved from the wreckage of the past twenty years will probably be enough to occupy one generation.
Eric Temple Bell
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The statistical method is social mathematics par excellence.
Eric Temple Bell
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The distinction between the mathematical method and the scientific is seen in the agonies of very young children to do what their teachers sometimes tell them is mathematics. Anyone who was subjected to elementary geometry when his infantile brain was as unripe as a green walnut will recall the protracted misery he endured.
Eric Temple Bell
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Even stranger things have happened; and perhaps the strangest of all is the marvel that mathematics should be possible to a race akin to the apes.
Eric Temple Bell
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Sooner or later the cold plunge into pure abstraction must be taken if one is to learn to swim in mathematics and to reason as rational, thinking human beings do.
Eric Temple Bell
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"If it is not abstract it is not mathematics" might be taken as a touchstone for discriminating between mathematics and other departments of precise investigation.
Eric Temple Bell
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For my own part I have swallowed mathematics enough in my life to be immune to just one more dose, and I shall continue to get smallpox vaccinations whenever I contemplate a vacation in any of the filthier parts of the North American continent.
Eric Temple Bell
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Mathematics has a light and wisdom of its own, above any possible applications to science, and it will richly reward any intelligent human being to catch a glimpse of what mathematics means to itself. This is not the old doctrine of art for art's sake; it is art for humanity's sake.
Eric Temple Bell
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If indeed, as Hilbert asserted, mathematics is a meaningless game played with meaningless marks on paper, the only mathematical experience to which we can refer is the making of marks on paper.
Eric Temple Bell
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Mathematics by itself has seldom got very far in the exploration of nature, as is attested by the numerous attempts of pure mathematicians of the past and present to resolve the universe with pencil and paper.
Eric Temple Bell
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Wisdom was not born with us, nor will it perish when we descend into the shadows with a regretful backward glance that other eyes than ours are already lit by the dawn of a new and truer mathematics.
Eric Temple Bell
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If mathematics is indeed the science of self-evident things, mathematicians are a phenomenally stupid lot to waste the tons of good paper they do in proving the fact.
Eric Temple Bell
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If a lunatic scribbles a jumble of mathematical symbols it does not follow that the writing means anything merely because to the inexpert eye it is indistinguishable from higher mathematics.
Eric Temple Bell
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Just as "beauty is its own excuse for being," so mathematics needs no apology for existing.
Eric Temple Bell
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The longer mathematics lives the more abstract - and therefore, possibly also the more practical - it becomes.
Eric Temple Bell
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This is precisely what common sense is for, to be jarred into uncommon sense. One of the chief services which mathematics has rendered the human race in the past century is to put "common sense" where it belongs, on the topmost shelf next to the dusty canister labeled "discarded nonsense."
Eric Temple Bell
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Any impatient student of mathematics or science or engineering who is irked by having algebraic symbolism thrust upon him should try to get along without it for a week.
Eric Temple Bell
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This does not mean that objections cannot be well taken: it merely calls attention to the fact that in mathematics, as in everything else, this earth is not yet to be confused with the Kingdom of Heaven.
Eric Temple Bell
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Some of his deepest discoveries were reasoned out verbally with very few if any symbols, and those for the most part mere abbreviations of words. Any impatient student of mathematics or science or engineering who is irked by having algebraic symbolism thrust on him should try to get on without it for a week.
Eric Temple Bell
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Abstractness, sometimes hurled as a reproach at mathematics, is its chief glory and its surest title to practical usefulness. It is also the source of such beauty as may spring from mathematics.
Eric Temple Bell
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Guided only by their feeling for symmetry, simplicity, and generality, and an indefinable sense of the fitness of things, creative mathematicians now, as in the past, are inspired by the art of mathematics rather than by any prospect of ultimate usefulness.
Eric Temple Bell
Quote of the day
Everywhere I go, I'm asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
Flannery O'Connor
Eric Temple Bell
Creative Commons
Born:
February 7, 1883
Died:
December 21, 1960
(aged 77)
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