Descartes' Dream: The World According to Mathematics

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9780151252602: Descartes' Dream: The World According to Mathematics

"A passionate plea against the use of formal mathematical reasoning as a method for solving mankind's problems. . . . An antidote to the Cartesian view that mathematical and scientific knowledge will suffice to solve the central problems of human existence." — The New York Times
"These cogitations can and should be read by every literate person." — Science Books and Films
"A warning against being seduced or intimidated by mathematics into accepting bad science, bad policies, and bad personal decisions." — Philadelphia Inquirer
Rationalist philosopher and mathematician René Descartes visualized a world unified by mathematics, in which all intellectual issues could be resolved rationally by local computation. This series of provocative essays takes a modern look at the seventeenth-century thinker's dream, examining the physical and intellectual influences of mathematics on society, particularly in light of technological advances. These essays survey the conditions of civilization that elicit the application of mathematic principles; the effectiveness of these applications; situations in which the applications are beneficial, dangerous, or irrelevant; and how applied mathematics constrain lives and transform perceptions of reality. Highly suitable for browsing, the essays require different levels of mathematical knowledge that range from popular to professional.
Philip J. Davisis Professor Emeritus, Division of Applied Mathematics, Brown University. Reuben Hershis Professor Emeritus, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

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From Library Journal:

Different in approach from the authors' well received The Mathematical Experience , which concentrated on developing a philosophy of mathematics, this eclectic collection of essays examines the application of mathematics to nature and human activities. Applied mathematics has become all-pervasive during the past 100 years as business, technology, and mathematics have combined to generate the computer age and the information society. In episodic fashion, Davis and Hersh present a lively narrative on the background and history of automation technology and its resultant social changes, and they evaluate the effectiveness, benefits, and even dangers of the "mathematization of the world." Fascinating and unique reading, though some of the essays are rather technical for the nonspecialist. Still, highly recommended. Robert Paustian, Wilkes Coll. Lib., Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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