Letter | Published:

Creators of Science

Nature volume 5, page 62 | Download Citation



PERMIT me to do my little towards clearing up a most unfortunate confusion of thought respecting the intellectual ranks of mathematicians and metaphysicians, which is, in my experience, widely prevalent. We may safely divide the mathematicians into three orders:—(1) Inventors, (2) Experts, (3) Readers or Students, so as to discriminate from one another those who create systems, those who manipulate with them, as “ministers and interpreters of nature”—just as easily and familiarly as Professor Tait (e.g.) employs and applies the theory of Quaternions—and those who have merely studied into an understanding of an author or subject. It was an expedient of the late Sir William Stirling Hamilton to confound all these orders, and from the heterogeneous lump to extract—if not extort—testimonies to the worthlessness of mathematics as a mental discipline, without the least discrimination of their sources.

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  1. Highgate, Nov. 8

    • C. M. INGLEBY


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