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Equations from God

, 256 pages
April 2008



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Equations from God

Pure Mathematics and Victorian Faith

Throughout history, application rather than abstraction has been the prominent driving force in mathematics. From the compass and sextant to partial differential equations, mathematical advances were spurred by the desire for better navigation tools, weaponry, and construction methods. But the religious upheaval in Victorian England and the fledgling United States opened the way for the rediscovery of pure mathematics, a tradition rooted in Ancient Greece.

In Equations from God, Daniel J. Cohen captures the origins of the rebirth of abstract mathematics in the intellectual quest to rise above common existence and touch the mind of the deity. Using an array of published and private sources, Cohen shows how philosophers and mathematicians seized upon the beautiful simplicity inherent in mathematical laws to reconnect with the divine and traces the route by which the divinely inspired mathematics of the Victorian era begot later secular philosophies.

Daniel J. Cohen is an assistant professor of history at George Mason University and the coauthor of Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web.

"The book is a good read."

"Cohen's short, readable book is a study in the history of ideas, and can be welcomed as pointing the way to important new directions in the history of mathematics."

"An extremely helpful book for anyone interested in the relationship between mathematics and religious belief."

"An excellent pick for college-level collections strong in science or spirituality."

"One can only welcome Equations from God."

"A great book, full of lovely stories. It is an important contribution."

"The main strength of the book comes from Cohen's archival research."

"Well-researched and engaging... breaks through the traditional mold for writing history of mathematics."

"Cohen has offered food for thought for historians of Victorian science in general and of mathematics in particular."

" Equations from God is well researched and stylishly written... a most welcome addition to the growing literature."

"Cohen has successfully situated the work of Peirce, Boole and De Morgan in social and religious context, making this book a valuable contribution to the literature on the mathematics of the English-speaking world in the nineteenth century."

"Welcome and informative book."

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