Book Review: The Loss of Certainty
There is an odd argument spreading all over the world but it has been approved by many people. It states that mathematics is a subject of rationality, a subject of logic, and mathematics is the queen in natural science. I used to think that mathematics is all about logic and rationality. However, after I read the book “the loss of Certainty” written by Morris Kline, I started to think another way. This is a book about history of math. This is a master piece of literature and it is deep thinking of a great thinker. This book also reveals the intense conflicts in the mathematical world. This book is very educational in nature and also entertaining. The first time I read this book, I felt depressed because the truth I used to believe is so vulnerable. However, after thinking further, I began to realize that the uncertainty of math is the path to the truth. The author, Morris Kline, was a writer on the history, philosophy, and teaching of mathematics. His magnum opus about history of math was “Mathematical thought from ancient to modern times” and his magnum opus about mathematical criticism was “Mathematics: the loss of certainty.” He was a thinker that understands math better than anyone else since the Euclidean geometry established the explicit pattern of modern math. In the beginning of the book, the author says “There are tragedies caused by war, famine, and pestilence. But there are also intellectual tragedies caused by limitations of human mind. This book relates the calamities that have befallen man’s most effective and unparalleled accomplishment, his most persistent and profound effort to utilize human reason—mathematics.” To most people, mathematics is considered to be the truth of the universe, the unshakeable knowledge relating physical world. Mathematical reasoning is at the top of rigorous demonstration. It is accurate and it is truth. However, in fact, just as Kline pointed out in the book, the generally accepted...
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