Read An Introduction to Mathematics by Alfred North Whitehead Free Online
Book Title: An Introduction to Mathematics|
The author of the book: Alfred North Whitehead
Edition: Oxford University Press, USA
Date of issue: October 29th 1992
Loaded: 2871 times
Reader ratings: 4.9
ISBN 13: 9780195002119
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 24.96 MB
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A big fat book that has, of late, been sitting on the shelf in front of me is titled What is Mathematics? That book and this one should switch titles. When a student puts down What is Mathematics? they will know how to do various types of math problems, but not what math is. And when a student puts down this book, they will have a general idea of what math is, and won’t be able to solve any problems.
This is actually my favorite book of mathematics that I’ve read (which isn’t saying very much). It’s charming and interesting all the way through. Whitehead is a skilled writer—throwing in various anecdotes to enliven the otherwise dry material—so the book is a pleasure to read. He is also a skilled educator, and picks examples that are both crystal clear and that effectively build on one another as the book progresses.
But what I really enjoyed was that Whitehead actually attempted to explain what math is. For example, when I finished the chapter on trigonometry in this book, I had a realization: though I've solved dozens, perhaps hundreds, of trig problems in high school, I hadn’t the slightest idea what I was actually doing. I was little better than a chimpanzee following a routine in order to get a treat. But Whitehead, in just twenty pages, manages to get at the heart of trigonometry, and to show its relationship to other, more familiar, branches of math.
That being said, I’m not sure who I’d recommend this book to. If you are already a math whiz, you will almost certainly be bored. If you are looking to improve your skill in solving math problems, look elsewhere. But if you are (relatively) mathematically ignorant, while at the same time philosophically inclined, and appreciate a generally charming writer, then this book is perfect for you.
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Read information about the authorAlfred North Whitehead, OM FRS (15 February 1861 – 30 December 1947) was an English mathematician and philosopher. He is best known as the defining figure of the philosophical school known as process philosophy, which today has found application to a wide variety of disciplines, including ecology, theology, education, physics, biology, economics, and psychology, among other areas.
In his early career Whitehead wrote primarily on mathematics, logic, and physics. His most notable work in these fields is the three-volume Principia Mathematica (1910–13), which he co-wrote with former student Bertrand Russell. Principia Mathematica is considered one of the twentieth century's most important works in mathematical logic, and placed 23rd in a list of the top 100 English-language nonfiction books of the twentieth century by Modern Library.
Beginning in the late 1910s and early 1920s, Whitehead gradually turned his attention from mathematics to philosophy of science, and finally to metaphysics. He developed a comprehensive metaphysical system which radically departed from most of western philosophy. Whitehead argued that reality was fundamentally constructed by events rather than substances, and that these events cannot be defined apart from their relations to other events, thus rejecting the theory of independently existing substances. Today Whitehead's philosophical works – particularly Process and Reality – are regarded as the foundational texts of process philosophy.
Whitehead's process philosophy argues that "there is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have consequences for the world around us." For this reason, one of the most promising applications of Whitehead's thought in recent years has been in the area of ecological civilization and environmental ethics pioneered by John B. Cobb, Jr.
Isabelle Stengers wrote that "Whiteheadians are recruited among both philosophers and theologians, and the palette has been enriched by practitioners from the most diverse horizons, from ecology to feminism, practices that unite political struggle and spirituality with the sciences of education." Indeed, in recent decades attention to Whitehead's work has become more widespread, with interest extending to intellectuals in Europe and China, and coming from such diverse fields as ecology, physics, biology, education, economics, and psychology. However, it was not until the 1970s and 1980s that Whitehead's thought drew much attention outside of a small group of American philosophers and theologians, and even today he is not considered especially influential outside of relatively specialized circles.
In recent years, Whiteheadian thought has become a stimulating influence in scientific research.
In physics particularly, Whitehead's thought has been influential, articulating a rival doctrine to Albert Einstein's general relativity. Whitehead's theory of gravitation continues to be controversial. Even Yutaka Tanaka, who suggests that the gravitational constant disagrees with experimental findings, admits that Einstein's work does not actually refute Whitehead's formulation. Also, although Whitehead himself gave only secondary consideration to quantum theory, his metaphysics of events has proved attractive to physicists in that field. Henry Stapp and David Bohm are among those whose work has been influenced by Whitehead.
Whitehead is widely known for his influence in education theory. His philosophy inspired the formation of the Association for Process Philosophy of Education (APPE), which published eleven volumes of a journal titled Process Papers on process philosophy and education from 1996 to 2008. Whitehead's theories on education also led to the formation of new modes of learning and new models of teaching.
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