Mathematics as Ophelia
I will not go so far as to say that to construct a history of thought without profound study of the mathematical ideas of successive epochs is like omitting Hamlet from the play which is named after him. That would be claiming too much. But it is certainly analogous to cutting out the part of Ophelia. This simile is singularly exact. For Ophelia is quite essential to the play, she is very charming … and a little mad.
–Alfred North Whitehead
I often have thoughts along these lines. Calculus with the early moderns, consolidation with the neoclassicals, non-Euclidean geometry with the Romantics, set theory and algebra with the onset of modernism… and all throughout the layering upon layering of new abstractions.
It would be interesting, I think, to think seriously about the relationship of structuralism and post- to abstract algebra. It is here that my thoughts always turn when I read Derrida.
I need to read Whitehead’s Science and the Modern World.