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Evolution of Mathematical Concepts: An Elementary Study (Transworld student library)

2 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0470944134
ISBN-10: 0470944137
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Product Details

  • Series: Transworld student library
  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc (March 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470944137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470944134
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,967,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I humorously refer to certain books as being on my list of the 10 worst books. I am not sure if rhe number of books on that imaginary list has expanded beyond ten or not. Nevertheless, I refer to this book as being on this list. Why do I bother to take a stand against this book?

The book is somewhat interdisciplinary. I am drawn to such endeavors while having a clear understanding of the difficulty of succeeding in this type of approach. Where such an approach fails and this book is guilty of these problems, two popular, over-simplified concepts are fused. When this is done, the uninformed reader is misled and comes away with some rather distorted understandings. This type of book appeals to those who want to impress those even less informed. The blind leading the blind has unfortunate repercussions.

In this book, an immature description of the development of mathematical ideas is tied to theory of cultural determinism in history that was developed by Leslie White around sixty years ago. i read White's book when I was an undergraduate and felt that it appealed to those who wanted an overly-neat system with which they could pigeon-hole various events. This kind of pigeonholing of events is used more to "prove" how wonderful the theory is than to gain a deeper understanding of the events and ideas under discussion.

In making a more successful study, one must continually find a balance between over-generalizing and over-particularizing. This is not an easy task. One must also write in such a way as to appeal to a novice and a sophisticate. This is also not easy. But this is what is required. Evolution of Mathematical Concepts fails miserably.
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