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"An Introduction to Mathematics" by Alfred North Whitehead

Gentle introduction to the subject that has helped us explore, solve problems and progress forward to the collective betterment of our human life.

For being one of the most disliked science among the rest, books like these need to flourish into many academic institutions. Yeah, I know most of you are going to say, "but Kris, I already know what Math is anyway LOL. It's all just calculating numbers!" Just calculating numbers? That's what happens when you don't do research.

Author Alfred North Whitehead, who happens to be both a Mathematician and a Philosopher, wrote this book welcoming those into the realm and beauty of Mathematics. Although known for his linguistic style, which may overwhelm the reader a bit, Whitehead did a wonderful job explaining what the true goal of Math, its philosophy, its disciplines and what makes the science applicable to the real world. While the book tries to attract the layperson, those even with knowledge in basic arithmetic should be able to grasp this book.

The longest section of the book is his take on Imaginary Numbers. Whitehead explains some brief history as to why it came to be as some solutions could not be solved, nor could mathematicians back then could arrive at a final answer (square root of 2, for example). It came to the point where I was curious about digging in to Number Theory, a disciplinary study in finding numerical patterns and theoretical primes among, well, numbers (best area if you're studying Cryptography). Besides that, due to Whitehead's explanations, he got me very excited about Geometry, Trigonometry and Differential Calculus. The explanations and introduction to those subjects were gentle to me, making me want to dive deep into them (I'm an Algebra and Mathematical Logic guy). Not only that, but Whitehead made the explanations clear enough to where the reader's eye's won't go bonkers when they see funky, complex and "cool" Math symbols. In other words, all those subscripts and Greek symbols won't seem like you're studying a foreign language with Math; It's all about what its function is and the problem its trying to solve.

Saying that means that I strongly recommend that schools introduce books like these in the classrooms early on. We can't just do Math if we don't know what it's truly all about and what its underlying philosophy is (we could say the same for many other subjects). One of my beliefs is "Know Before You Do," and I really wished I knew all about Math before I was a teenager, even though I was very good at Algebra. Nevertheless, perhaps Math won't be so hated and crazy if we knew what it was about and learn about its workings and symbolic notations before taking classes on it. Agree to disagree, but that's how I feel.

Though he passed away during the World War II era, wherever you are, author Whitehead, this review is to thank you for writing this book and your amazing contributions to the wonderful science: Mathematics. I enjoyed your book and look forward to more. Highly recommended, folks!

(NOTE: This review marks as the very first book by Dover Publications! Thank you Dover for your amazing science books. I personally am a fan, and here's to many more coming!)

UPDATE (04-05-2021): At a time like this, whether you're a parent or teacher, the importance of getting kids to be more confident in mathematics is key to maintaining a stable future for themselves and for the world overall. It's time to re-think how kids of today and of tomorrow to learn and absorb mathematics to solidify a secure outlook at Juni Learning - Rethinking How Kids Learn Math!





  • Friendly introduction to a beautiful subject.
  • Became the first book by Dover Publications to be reviewed here on The Seeds of Books.
  • Highly recommended to all schools to help students better understand mathematics overall.
  • May be a little outdated by today's standards.
90% (A-)
Fan Rating
Title An Introduction to Mathematics
Author(s) Alfred North Whitehead
Description "The object of the following chapters is not to teach mathematics, but to enable students from the very beginning of their course to know what the science is about, and why it is necessarily the foundation of exact thought as applied to natural phenomena." Thus begins this volume by the prominent English philosopher and mathematician Alfred North Whitehead, a concise statement on the nature and meaning of mathematics for the general student. Expertly written and abounding in insights, the book presents a lively exposition of mathematical concepts, the history of their development, and their applications to the physical world.

Whitehead explains in broad terms what mathematics is about, what it does, and how mathematicians do it. Generations of readers who have stayed with the philosopher from the beginning to the end have found themselves amply rewarded for taking this journey. As The New York Times observed decades ago, "Whitehead doesn't popularize or make palatable; he is simply lucid and cogent ... A finely balanced mixture of knowledge and urbanity .... Should delight you."
Dedication --
ISBN 978-0-486-81366-0
Book Dimensions Width: 6″
Height: 9″
Depth: 0.44″ (7/16″)
Page Count 176
Contents The Abstract Nature of Mathematics, Variables, Methods of Application, Dynamics, The Symbolism of Mathematics, Generalizations of Numbers, Imaginary Numbers, Imaginary Numbers (Continued), Coordinate Geometry, Conic Sections, Functions, Periodicity in Nature, Trigonometry, Series, The Differential Calculus, Geometry, Quantity, Bibliography, Index
Author Photograph --
Published May 17, 2017 (Originally published in 1911)
Publisher Dover Publications (www.doverpublications.com). Originally published by Henry Holt & Company, New York.
Manufactured in United States by LSC Communications (81366501 2017)
Book Format Hardcover, Kindle
Quoted Reviews --
Best Seller's List --
Other Dover republication of the edition originally published by Henry Holt & Co., New York, 1911.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data ???
CIP Number ???
LC Control Number 2016058718
LC Call Number QA7.W53 2017
DDC Call Number 510—dc23


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