I’m currently reading Morris Kline’s Mathematics for the Nonmathematician, which was recommended to me by a college professor.  It’s not one of those books that I think I’ll fully review, but I had to share this.

The early Catholic Church thought of math as evil.  To quote St. Augustine, circa 400CE:

The good Christian should beware of mathematicians and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.

And the Romans had a Code of Mathematicians and Evil-Doers (don’t those go well together?) that said “to learn the art of geometry and to take part in public exercises, an art as damnable as mathematics, are forbidden.”

My amusement aside, it’s a good book (so far) for learning math in a way that doesn’t sound like a dry textbook.  It does make me laugh at how confident the author was, writing in 1967, that we have a handle on Nature and how the universe works.  And I think that if he could have gone back in time he would have offered to fellate Pythagoras.  His worship of the ancient Greeks is seriously over the top.  So it’s a fun read even when it doesn’t mean to be.

The reason I’m reading this is because I’m finally taking math classes at the community college.  Yes, I have a bachelor’s degree already, but I’m determined to learn calculus.  No reason, just want to know it.  Especially vector calculus.  Mmmm.  It’ll take me a while to get there, though.  Right now I’m doing trigonometry, then in spring I’ll do pre-calc.  So exciting!


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