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By G. H. Hardy
A Mathematician's Apology is the recognized essay by way of British mathematician G. H. Hardy. It issues the aesthetics of arithmetic with a few own content material, and provides the layman an perception into the brain of a operating mathematician. certainly, this ebook is usually one among the simplest insights into the brain of a operating mathematician written for the layman.
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I suppose that it is a worse book than most of Marie Corelli’s; but a book can hardly be entirely bad if it fires a clever boy’s imagination. There are two heroes, a primary hero called Flowers, who is almost wholly good, and a secondary hero, a much weaker vessel, called Brown. Flowers and Brown find many dangers in university life, but the worst is a gambling saloon in Chesterton21 run by the Misses Bellenden, two fascinating but extremely wicked young ladies. Flowers survives all these troubles, is Second Wrangler and Senior 20 21 ‘Alan St Aubyn’ was Mrs Frances Marshall, wife of Matthew Marshall.
We live either by rule of thumb or on other people’s professional knowledge. However, this is a side issue, a matter of pedagogy, interesting only to schoolmasters who have to advise parents clamouring for a ‘useful’ education for their sons. Of course we do not mean, when we say that physiology is useful, that most people ought to study physiology, but that the development of physiology by a handful of experts will increase the comfort of the majority. The questions which are important for us now are, how far mathematics can claim this sort of utility, what kinds of mathematics can make the strongest claims, and how far the intensive study of mathematics, as it is understood by mathematicians, can be justified on this ground alone.
Thus (to take the latter point first), I must remember (a) that the organization of an entire population for war is only possible through scientific methods; (b) that science has greatly increased the power of propaganda, which is used almost exclusively for evil; and (c) that it has made ‘neutrality’ almost impossible or unmeaning, so that there are no longer ‘islands of peace’ from which sanity and restoration might spread out gradually after war. All this, of course, tends to reinforce the case against science.