By Morris Kline
This e-book provides a remarkably high quality account of the impacts arithmetic has exerted at the improvement of philosophy, the actual sciences, faith, and the humanities in Western lifestyles.
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Additional info for Mathematics in Western Culture (Galaxy Books)
When sheep owners of many primitive tribes sell several animals, they will not take a lump sum for the lot but must be paid for each one separately. The alternative of multiplying the number of sheep by the price per sheep confuses them and leaves them suspecting that they have been cheated. There is little question that geometry, like the number system, was fostered in primitive civilizations to satisfy man's needs. Fundamental geometric concepts came from observation of figures formed by physical objects.
Too much has been made of the mathematics used in the construction of pyramids and temples as evidence of the profundity of ancient mathematics. It is pointed out by some writers that the sides of a pyramid are almost exactly the same length and that the right angles are very close to 90°. Not mathematics, however, but care and patience were required to obtain such results. Accurate computers are not necessarily great mathematicians and neither were the pyramid builders. What is amazing about their work was the organization and engineering of such large-scale efforts.
The Babylonians were also highly skilled irrigation engineers. Through cleverly dug canals, the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the life's blood of these people, fertilized the land and made possible in that dry, hot climate the support of thriving and populous cities such as Ur and Babylon. But it is a mistake—no matter how often it is repeated—to believe that mathematics in Egypt and Babylonia was confined just to the solution of practical problems. This belief is as false for those times as it is for our own.
Mathematics in Western Culture (Galaxy Books) by Morris Kline