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Euler's Gem by David S. Richeson

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CHAPTER 4

THE PYTHAGOREAN BROTHERHOOD AND PLATOS ATOMIC THEORY

[Pythagoras] was also the first to open up the enduring gulf of incomprehension between the scientific spirit, which hopes that the universe is ultimately understandable, and the mystical spirit, which hopes—perhaps unconsciously—that it is not.—George Simmons1

The early history of Greek mathematics is full of apocrypha, speculations, contradictory evidence, secondhand accounts, and just enough verifiable truths to create a fascinating puzzle. There are very few surviving records of Greek mathematics, and this scarcity of information makes it challenging to reconstruct the historical truth. Primary sources survived for several centuries after their creation, but nearly all were destroyed ...

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