Equations from God: Pure Mathematics and Victorian Faith

Overview

Throughout history, application rather than abstraction has been the prominent driving force in mathematics. From the compass and sextant to partial differential equations, mathematical advances were spurred by the desire for better navigation tools, weaponry, and construction methods. But the religious upheaval in Victorian England and the fledgling United States opened the way for the rediscovery of pure mathematics, a tradition rooted in Ancient Greece.

In Equations from God,...

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Equations from God: Pure Mathematics and Victorian Faith

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Overview

Throughout history, application rather than abstraction has been the prominent driving force in mathematics. From the compass and sextant to partial differential equations, mathematical advances were spurred by the desire for better navigation tools, weaponry, and construction methods. But the religious upheaval in Victorian England and the fledgling United States opened the way for the rediscovery of pure mathematics, a tradition rooted in Ancient Greece.

In Equations from God, Daniel J. Cohen captures the origins of the rebirth of abstract mathematics in the intellectual quest to rise above common existence and touch the mind of the deity. Using an array of published and private sources, Cohen shows how philosophers and mathematicians seized upon the beautiful simplicity inherent in mathematical laws to reconnect with the divine and traces the route by which the divinely inspired mathematics of the Victorian era begot later secular philosophies.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Convergence
The book is a good read.

— Barnabas Hughes

Newsletter of the London Mathematical Society
Cohen's short, readable book is a study in the history of ideas, and can be welcomed as pointing the way to important new directions in the history of mathematics.

— Jeremy Gray

Journal of the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences
An extremely helpful book for anyone interested in the relationship between mathematics and religious belief.
Midwest Book Review
An excellent pick for college-level collections strong in science or spirituality.
First Things
One can only welcome Equations from God.
Zentralblatt Math
A great book, full of lovely stories. It is an important contribution.

— Teun Koetsier

American Historical Review
The main strength of the book comes from Cohen's archival research.

— Ivor Grattan-Guinness

Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith
Well-researched and engaging... breaks through the traditional mold for writing history of mathematics.

— Calvin Jongsma

Isis
Cohen has offered food for thought for historians of Victorian science in general and of mathematics in particular.

— Karen H. Parshall

Victorian Studies
Equations from God is well researched and stylishly written... a most welcome addition to the growing literature.

— Tony Crilly

British Journal for the History of Science
Cohen has successfully situated the work of Peirce, Boole and De Morgan in social and religious context, making this book a valuable contribution to the literature on the mathematics of the English-speaking world in the nineteenth century.

— Judith V. Grabiner

Books & Culture: A Christian Review
Welcome and informative book.

— Timothy Larsen

Convergence - Barnabas Hughes
The book is a good read.
Newsletter of the London Mathematical Society - Jeremy Gray
Cohen's short, readable book is a study in the history of ideas, and can be welcomed as pointing the way to important new directions in the history of mathematics.
Zentralblatt Math - Teun Koetsier
A great book, full of lovely stories. It is an important contribution.
American Historical Review - Ivor Grattan-Guinness
The main strength of the book comes from Cohen's archival research.
Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith - Calvin Jongsma
Well-researched and engaging... breaks through the traditional mold for writing history of mathematics.
Isis - Karen H. Parshall
Cohen has offered food for thought for historians of Victorian science in general and of mathematics in particular.
Victorian Studies - Tony Crilly
Equations from God is well researched and stylishly written... a most welcome addition to the growing literature.
British Journal for the History of Science - Judith V. Grabiner
Cohen has successfully situated the work of Peirce, Boole and De Morgan in social and religious context, making this book a valuable contribution to the literature on the mathematics of the English-speaking world in the nineteenth century.
Books and Culture: A Christian Review - Timothy Larsen
Welcome and informative book.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Daniel J. Cohen is an assistant professor of history at George Mason University and the coauthor of Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction: The Allure of Pure Mathematics in the Victorian Age     1
Heavenly Symbols: Sources of Victorian Mathematical Idealism     14
God and Math at Harvard: Benjamin Peirce and the Divinity of Mathematics     42
George Boole and the Genesis of Symbolic Logic     77
Augustus De Morgan and the Logic of Relations     106
Earthly Calculations: Mathematics and Professionalism in the Late Nineteenth Century     137
Notes     183
Bibliography     215
Index     235
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