Mathematics and the Divine - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780444503282, 9780080457352

Mathematics and the Divine

1st Edition

A Historical Study

Editors: Teun Koetsier Luc Bergmans
Hardcover ISBN: 9780444503282
eBook ISBN: 9780080457352
Imprint: Elsevier Science
Published Date: 9th December 2004
Page Count: 716
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Mathematics and the Divine seem to correspond to diametrically opposed tendencies of the human mind. Does the mathematician not seek what is precisely defined, and do the objects intended by the mystic and the theologian not lie beyond definition? Is mathematics not Man's search for a measure, and isn’t the Divine that which is immeasurable ? The present book shows that the domains of mathematics and the Divine, which may seem so radically separated, have throughout history and across cultures, proved to be intimately related. Religious activities such as the building of temples, the telling of ritual stories or the drawing of enigmatic figures all display distinct mathematical features. Major philosophical systems dealing with the Absolute and theological speculations focussing on our knowledge of the Ultimate have been based on or inspired by mathematics. A series of chapters by an international team of experts highlighting key figures, schools and trains of thought is presented here. Chinese number mysticism, the views of Pythagoras and Plato and their followers, Nicholas of Cusa's theological geometry, Spinozism and intuitionism as a philosophy of mathematics are treated side by side among many other themes in an attempt at creating a global view on the relation of mathematics and Man’s quest for the Absolute in the course of history.

Key Features

· Mathematics and man's quest for the Absolute · A selective history highlighting key figures, schools and trains of thought · An international team of historians presenting specific new findings as well as general overviews · Confronting and uniting otherwise compartmentalized information


Scholarly public working in history, philosophy, theology or mathematics and a more generally oriented, academic but less specialized public.

Table of Contents


  1. Ho Peng-Yoke, Chinese Number Mysticism
  2. Kim Plofker, Derivation and Revelation: the Legitimacy of Mathematical Models in Indian Cosmology
  3. Reviel Netz, The Pythagoreans
  4. Ian Mueller, Mathematics and the Divine in Plato
  5. Jean-François Mattei, Nicomachus of Gerasa and the Divine Arithmetical Ladder
  6. Dominic J. O'Meara, Geometry and the Divine in Proclus
  7. Marie-Pierre Terrien, Religious Architecture and Mathematics during Late Antiquity
  8. David A. King, The Sacred Geography of Islam
  9. Faith Wallis, 'Number Mystique' in early medieval computus texts
  10. Maurice-Ruben Hayoun, Is the Divine Universe Divisible
  11. Charles Lohr, Mathematics and the Divine: Ramon Lull
  12. Hugue Garcia, Christian Gnosis
  13. Edith Dudley Sylla, Swester Katrei and Gregory of Rimini: Angels, God and Mathematics in the Fourteenth Century
  14. Jean-Michel Counet, Mathematics and the Divine in Nicholas of Cusa
  15. Teun Koetsier and Karin Reich, Michael Stifel and his Numerology
  16. Ivo Schneider, Between Rosicrucians and Kabbala - the Mathematics of the Biblical Numbers of Johannes Faulhaber
  17. Eberhard Knobloch, Mathematics and the Divine: Athanasius Kircher
  18. Volker R. Remmert, Galileo, God and Mathematics
  19. André Charrak, The Mathematical Model of Creation According to Kepler
  20. Jean-Marie Nicolle, The Mathematical Analogy in the Proof of God's Existence by Descartes
  21. Donald Adamson, Pascal's Views on Mathematics and the Divine
  22. Ger Harmsen, Spinoza and the Geometrical Method of Proof
  23. Philip Beeley and Siegmund Probst, John Wallis (1616-1703): Mathematician and Divine
  24. Kees de Pater, Newton and the Ocean of Truth
  25. Herbert Breger, Leibniz: Mathematics and the Divine
  26. Wolfgang Breidert, Berkeley's Defence of the Infinite God in Contrast to the Infinite in Mathematics
  27. Ruediger Thiele, Leonhard Euler and the Divine
  28. Ruediger Thiele, Georg Cantor and the Divine
  29. Luc Bergmans, Gerrit Mannoury and his Fellow Significians on Mathematics and Mysticism
  30. Teun Koetsier, Arthur Schopenhauer and L. E. J. Brouwer: A Comparison
  31. Sergei S. Demidov and Charles E. Ford, On the Road to a Unified View: Priest Pavel Florensky - Theologian, Philosopher and Scientist
  32. François De Gandt, Husserl and Impossible Numbers: a Sceptical Experience
  33. Bruno Pinchard, Symbol and Space According to René Guénon
  34. Teun Koetsier, Eddington: Science and the Unseen World
  35. Albert van der Schoot, The Divined Proportion


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Elsevier Science
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About the Editor

Teun Koetsier

Affiliations and Expertise

Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Luc Bergmans

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Paris IV Sorbonne, Paris, France


"...Mathematics and the Divine makes a valuable contribution to opening up the history of this topic. It should provide welcome encouragement and assistance to others who would like to explore this arena further for themselves." -in THE MATHEMATICAL ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA