Philosophy and Fun of Algebra

by Mary Everest Boole

Chapter 18: Appendix

Additional Information
  • Year Published: 1909
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: England
  • Source: Boole, M. E. (1909). Philosophy and Fun of Algebra.London, England:.
  • Readability:
    • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 6.0
  • Word Count: 260
  • Genre: Informational
  • Keywords: math history, mathematics
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The essential element of Algebra:—the habitual registration of the exact limits of one’s knowledge, the incessant calling into consciousness of the fact of one’s own ignorance, is the element which Boole’s would-be interpreters have left out of his method. It is also the element which modern Theosophy omits in its interpretation of ancient Oriental Mind Science.

Men who wish to exploit other men fear nothing in logic or science except this element. They fear nothing in earth, heaven, or hell, so much as a public accustomed to realise exactly how much has been proved, and where its own ignorance begins. Exploiters fear this about equally, whether they call themselves priests, schoolmasters, college dons, political leaders, or organisers of syndicates and trusts.

As long as general readers can be kept from the habit of registering at every step the fact of their own ignorance and the limits of their own knowledge, a clever charlatan can deceive them about anything he pleases:—“from pitch-and-toss to manslaughter”; from Zero to Infinity; from the contents of a meat tin to the contents of an engineer’s report; from the interpretation of a bill before Parliament to the interpretation of Isaiah.

Once get any fair proportion of the public into the steady habit of algebraising ignorance, and you will have done much towards reducing all kinds of parasitic creatures to the alternative of starvation, suicide, or earning their own living by rendering some kind of real service to the organism which supports them.