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    Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty (Oxford Paperbacks) (Paperback) By (author) Morris Kline

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    DescriptionRefuting the accepted belief that mathematics is exact and infallible, the author examines the development of conflicting concepts of mathematics and their implications for the physical, applied, social, and computer sciences


 

Reviews | Bibliographic data
  • Full bibliographic data for Mathematics

    Title
    Mathematics
    Subtitle
    The Loss of Certainty
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) Morris Kline
    Physical properties
    Format: Paperback
    Number of pages: 384
    Width: 135 mm
    Height: 198 mm
    Thickness: 20 mm
    Weight: 204 g
    Language
    English
    ISBN
    ISBN 13: 9780195030853
    ISBN 10: 0195030850
    Classifications

    BIC E4L: MAT
    Nielsen BookScan Product Class 3: S7.9T
    DC22: 510
    BIC subject category V2: PB
    Ingram Theme: APPR/RDRCAT
    Warengruppen-Systematik des deutschen Buchhandels: 26200
    LC subject heading:
    Ingram Subject Code: MA
    Libri: I-MA
    DC22: 510.9
    LC subject heading:
    LC classification: QA21
    BISAC V2.8: MAT015000
    Thema V1.0: PBB, PB
    Edition statement
    Reprint
    Publisher
    Oxford University Press Inc
    Imprint name
    Oxford University Press Inc
    Publication date
    17 June 1982
    Publication City/Country
    New York
    Review text
    Whither mathematics? . . . or wither mathematics? These are the questions that preoccupy mathematician Morris Kline (New York University) in this gloomy contemplation of mathematics' fate. From first to last he focuses on truth as it is - or is not - established in mathematics. As a lucid commentator Kline breezes along, discoursing on the Babylonians and Pythagoreans, the worthies of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the modern era. He is quick to point out how the "queen of the sciences" served the religious and cultural ideals of men in a God-centered society. Mathematics could demonstrate the divine and absolute harmony of nature, reflecting the glory of God. Of course a Galileo or a Descartes, while still devout, offered-slightly different views, seeing in mathematics a method to be exploited and explored without reference to the deity. In time, other mathematicians and philosophers would question the very notion of truth and logical proof. With the discovery that there could be such entities as non-Euclidean geometries or whole classes of "transfinite" numbers, notions of reality - and of mathematics as mirroring that reality - began to fade. Later, the works of Kurt Godel and others shook the very foundations of mathematics, establishing that no mathematical system could be consistent or complete, no proof certain; there would always be undecideable propositions and the like. What is so surprising is Kline's acute emotional reaction to these developments: mathematics for him appears to be suffering a fate worse than death. His only solution - clearly reflecting his strong applied math bias - is a pragmatic one. If mathematics works as an aid in explaining the natural world, fine. Since it so often has worked, we can assume that it will continue to work, go on to refine the methods, and ignore questions of truth and axiomatics. Many mathematicians may find Kline's concern bewildering and beside the point; they will continue to "do" mathematics - inspired, if not by truth, then by beauty or by the very pleasure of the doing. The bright young buff, however, might enjoy the exposition and shrug off the dire conclusions. (Kirkus Reviews)
    Back cover copy
    Most intelligent people today still believe that mathematics is a body of unshakable truths about the physical world and that mathematical reasoning is exact and infallible. Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty refutes that myth.