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Quotes About Mathematics
I don't want to convince you that mathematics is useful. It is, but utility is not the only criterion for value to humanity. Above all, I want to convince you that mathematics is beautiful, surprising, enjoyable, and interesting. In fact, mathematics is the closest that we humans get to true magic. How else to describe the patterns in our heads that - by some mysterious agency - capture patterns of the universe around us? Mathematics connects ideas that otherwise seem totally unrelated, revealing deep similarities that subsequently show up in nature.
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The point of mathematics is that in it we have always got rid of the particular instance, and even of any particular sorts of entities. So that for example, no mathematical truths apply merely to fish, or merely to stones, or merely to colours. So long as you are dealing with pure mathematics, you are in the realm of complete and absolute abstraction. . . . Mathematics is thought moving in the sphere of complete abstraction from any particular instance of what it is talking about.
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Mathematics never reveals man to the degree, never expresses him in the way, that any other field of human endeavour does: the extent of the negation of man's corporeal self that mathematics achieves cannot be compared with anything. Whoever is interested in this subject I refer to my articles. Here I will say only that the world injected its patterns into human language at the very inception of that language; mathematics sleeps in every utterance, and can only be discovered, never invented.
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The broader the chess player you are, the easier it is to be competitive, and the same seems to be true of mathematics - if you can find links between different branches of mathematics, it can help you resolve problems. In both mathematics and chess, you study existing theory and use that to go forward.
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A chess problem is genuine mathematics, but it is in some way "trivial" mathematics. However, ingenious and intricate, however original and surprising the moves, there is something essential lacking. Chess problems are unimportant. The best mathematics is serious as well as beautiful-"important" if you like, but the word is very ambiguous, and "serious" expresses what I mean much better.
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I'm not the sort of person who does my mathematics writing on paper. I do that at the last stage of the game. I do my mathematics in my head. I sit down for a hard day's work and I write nothing all day. I just think. And I walk up and down because that helps keep me awake, it keeps the blood circulating, and I think and think.
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I do not remember having felt, as a boy, any passion for mathematics, and such notions as I may have had of the career of a mathematician were far from noble. I thought of mathematics in terms of examinations and scholarships: I wanted to beat other boys, and this seemed to be the way in which I could do so most decisively.
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To many, mathematics is a collection of theorems. For me, mathematics is a collection of examples; a theorem is a statement about a collection of examples and the purpose of proving theorems is to classify and explain the examples...
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A Christian boy or girl can learn mathematics, for example, from a teacher who is not a Christian; and truth is truth however learned. But while truth is truth however learned, the bearing of truth, the meaning of truth, the purpose of truth, even in the sphere of mathematics, seem entirely different to the Christian from that which they seem to the non-Christian; and that is why a truly Christian education is possible only when Christian conviction underlies not a part but all, of the curriculum of the school.
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...the source of all great mathematics is the special case, the concrete example. It is frequent in mathematics that every instance of a concept of seemingly generality is, in essence, the same as a small and concrete special case.
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As I considered the matter carefully it gradually came to light that all those matters only were referred to mathematics in which order and measurements are investigated, and that it makes no difference whether it be in numbers, figures, stars, sounds or any other object that the question of measurement arises. I saw consequently that there must be some general science to explain that element as a whole which gives rise to problems about order and measurement, restricted as these are to no special subject matter. This, I perceived was called 'universal mathematics'.
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The tool which serves as intermediary between theory and practice, between thought and observation, is mathematics; it is mathematics which builds the linking bridges and gives the ever more reliable forms.
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In many cases, mathematics is an escape from reality. The mathematician finds his own monastic niche and happiness in pursuits that are disconnected from external affairs. Some practice it as if using a drug. Chess sometimes plays a similar role. In their unhappiness over the events of this world, some immerse themselves in a kind of self-sufficiency in mathematics. (Some have engaged in it for this reason alone.)
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Thus metaphysics and mathematics are, among all the sciences that belong to reason, those in which imagination has the greatest role. I beg pardon of those delicate spirits who are detractors of mathematics for saying this . . . . The imagination in a mathematician who creates makes no less difference than in a poet who invents. . . . Of all the great men of antiquity, Archimedes may be the one who most deserves to be placed beside Homer.
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General Systems Theory is a name which has come into use to describe a level of theoretical model-building which lies somewhere between the highly generalized constructions of pure mathematics and the specific theories of the specialized disciplines. Mathematics attempts to organize highly general relationships into a coherent system, a system however which does not have any necessary connections with the "real" world around us. It studies all thinkable relationships abstracted from any concrete situation or body of empirical knowledge.
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One of the biggest problems of mathematics is to explain to everyone else what it is all about. The technical trappings of the subject, its symbolism and formality, its baffling terminology, its apparent delight in lengthy calculations: these tend to obscure its real nature. A musician would be horrified if his art were to be summed up as "a lot of tadpoles drawn on a row of lines"; but that"s all that the untrained eye can see in a page of sheet music... In the same way, the symbolism of mathematics is merely its coded form, not its substance.
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The so-called Pythagoreans, who were the first to take up mathematics, not only advanced this subject, but saturated with it, they fancied that the principles of mathematics were the principles of all things.
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I'm sorry to say that the subject I most disliked was mathematics. I have thought about it. I think the reason was that mathematics leaves no room for argument. If you made a mistake, that was all there was to it.
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