News

The Path to Public Service at SEAS

News

Should Supreme Court Justices Have Term Limits? That ‘Would Be Fine,’ Breyer Says at Harvard IOP Forum

News

Harvard Right to Life Hosts Anti-Abortion Event With Students For Life President

News

Harvard Researchers Debunk Popular Sleep Myths in New Study

News

Journalists Discuss Trump’s Effect on the GOP at Harvard IOP Forum

MATHEMATICS SEEN AS ESSENTIAL TO CULTURE

IS CHIEF LINK BETWEEN SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

"Mathematics has a definite place in cultural development,' said Assistant Professor M. Morse in an interview with a CRIMSON reporter yesterday. "The modern conception of culture will expand from that of Mathew Arnold's day, when it was considered a knowledge of the best that had been thought and said, to include broader intellectual activities; in particular a more flexible attitude toward science and philosophy." Professor Morse went on to say that in this country such an expansion would necessitate the recognition of Mathematics in three roles which differ greatly from the popular conception of the subject.

Mathematics is an Art

"First of all Mathematics, in its creative aspects, must be considered an art in spite of the fact that few people take time to realize that the primary instincts of the greatest mathematical investigators are aesthetic. However, such a conception of the subject is becoming widespread. In the old sense, those students in the secondary schools and technical colleges of this country who elect the maximum number of scientific subjects receive no culture whatsoever, yet the students are thoroughly convinced that culture may be obtained through the pursuit of science.

As Factor in Progress of Science

"The second role, one which scientists are beginning to recognize, is the fundamental part Mathematics is playing and is going to play in the development of the physical sciences. The spectacular achievements of Einstein, Bohr, and Milkman bring this fact forcible to light. These men admit that the former and more simple laws of physics, in relation to the conservation of energy and mass, are inadequate.

Effective Aid for Philosophy

"The third role of Mathematics is that of a very suggestive and effective aid to Philosophy since both subjects are based on fact. Of course, it must be acknowledged that the physical sciences postponed for years any national or philosophical investigations, into their foundations, but Mathematicians have for several generations been investigating the foundations of their subject. In this they were aided by that part of the philosophical world which realized that an effective and valid interpretation of the sciences was vital to philosophy.

"Therefore Mathematics, in a sense, is the mediator between Science and Philosophy and, in such a position, tends to heal the present estrangement.

"Mathematics, if it plays these three roles, is certainly an essential of culture, but the only means by which these roles will become a reality is correct instruction to students in the secondary schools and colleges.

"Instructors should expose to students the beauty and external significance of the subject in order to bring to the students' minds the infinite possibilities of this new intellectual age."

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags