Mathematics in Western Culture by MorrisKlineISBN 0-19-500714-X A very accessible and yet insightful exploration of the development of Mathematics starting around 600 BC. The book illustrates the fascinating way in which mathematics, society, religion, politics and of course physics have affected each other (it goes both ways!) through out the ages. Furthermore, the author nicely illustrates the processes by which people think and how those processes have also changed through the ages (i.e., The Age of Reason versus The Renaissance). This book left me with real insights as to the nature and limitations of the current state of mathematics and physics. Things are not as they seem, my friend! Lastly, the author displays an appreciation for the humor and irony of the history which makes this book hard to put down at times. I never thought a math/history book could be a "page turner"... Read it. -- PatNotzThanks for the recommendation. Have you seen the RogerPenrose discussions on Wiki yet? How would Kline view Penrose? Ah, I see this book was written in 1965, when all Penrose was known for was the generalized eigenvector (just warming up) ... still, just deciding whether to buy this anyway.
I haven't read any of Penrose's works (but thanks for the pointers - perhaps that'll be my next read!) but from what I just read on the Wiki pages, it seems that he's (currently) somewhat of an underdog in the intellectual arena. Kline makes a clear point that nearly all of the scientific (both mathematical and physical) revelations were the product of unconventional thinking and were often met with great skepticism and rejection. As such, I think Kline would refrain from drawing any conclusions about Penrose's works and merely keep and eye on him with an open mind. -- PN
He sounds like an excellent historian then!CategoryMath