Amir Alexander: On the Materiality of Mathematics 6

The materialist mathematics of the 17th century was a subversive mathematics. Instead of imposing order on a chaotic world, materialist mathematics started with the world as it is, and abstracted from it. Traditional mathematics, exemplified by Euclidean geometry, was a “mathematics from above”, bestowing divine order on a recalcitrant world. The indivisiblist methods of Cavalieri and Harriot were a “mathematics from below,” deriving truth from the world as it is. Hierarchy and order vs. egalitarianism and the risk of chaos; such were the politics of early modern mathematics.

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