X126 | 16105 | Emil Sargsyan

In this course we will trace the history of mathematics within the wider scope of the history of science in the western tradition. Our aim will be to identify and chart the philosophical and historical foundations of the indispensable role of mathematics in modern science. We will begin with Greek mathematics, and examine its role in Plato’s and Aristotle’s philosophy. After noting the decline in mathematics education and production during the early middle period in the west, we will touch on mathematical developments in the Arab world. The final third of the semester will be devoted to charting the translation, assimilation, and development of Renaissance mathematics. We will sketch the diversity of mathematical practitioners and contrast them with university professors of natural philosophy. Ultimately, we will note the shifting institutional status of mathematics, and its eventual role as a foundation for science. Although we will sketch the history of mathematics proper, the focus of the class will be to look at the shifting attitudes toward the role of mathematics in society.