Mathematics and the Divine

Mathematics and the Divine

A Historical Study

1st Edition - December 6, 2004

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  • Editors: Teun Koetsier, Luc Bergmans
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780444503282
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080457352

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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

  • Introduction
    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

Product details

  • No. of pages: 716
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier Science 2004
  • Published: December 6, 2004
  • Imprint: Elsevier Science
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780444503282
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080457352

About the Editors

Teun Koetsier

Affiliations and Expertise

Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Luc Bergmans

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Paris IV Sorbonne, Paris, France

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