Hobbes and Geometry

Philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679) discovered mathematics at a somewhat advanced age. His delight in the power of logic is clear in this description from John Aubrey's Brief Lives:

He was 40 years old before he looked in on Geometry; which happened accidentally. Being in a Gentleman's Library, Euclid's Elements lay open, and 'twas the 47 El. libri I. He read the Proposition. By God, sayd he (he would now and then swear an emphaticall Oath by way of emphasis) this is impossible! So he reads the Demonstration of it, which referred him back to such a Proposition; which proposition he read. That referred him back to another, which he also read. Et sic deinceps that at last he was demonstratively convinced of that trueth. This made him in love with Geometry.

Euclid's 47th proposition is the Pythagorean Theorem; I still find it rather magical ...

^z - 2008-03-04

(correlates: ThatDepends, KaplanOnGlobalization, MudAndCrystals, ...)