Poetry and Mathematics

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John Day Company, 1929 - Literature and science - 195 pages
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If someone who has read Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance would like an alternative account of the "Chairman" character of that book (who in real life was known as Richard P. McKeon) you can get it here from McKeon's contemporary, Scott Buchanan, in Buchanan's introduction to the second edition of this volume, originally published in 1929. This was when both McKeon and Buchanan were interested in promoting the "Great Books" approach to higher learning. But there are of course other reasons to read this book. The relation of poetry to mathematics and science remained a hot topic of discussion throughout the 20th century, with such luminaries as Ian Barbour having made some of the later contributions. Although originally aimed at a popular audience, Buchanan's dialectical method might prove a bit of a challenge to some English speaking readers as the dialectical method has become something of a rarity in the English speaking world. But the dialectical method (of Plato, Hegel, Husserl, and Heidegger among countless others) is nothing more and nothing less that a method of assimilation-- finding similarities among the most dissimilar sorts of things, usually from the perspective of some "higher" or "more enlightened" level. This stands in marked contrast to the operational or "rhetorical" methods which is just the opposite: a method of discrimination, a method that seeks to find differences between things which at first glance might seem to be the same. Consider "freedom" for example. In a cursory was we all know what freedom is. To many, it's doing what one wants whether or not one should. To others, plagued by addictions or psychological disorders for example, it's doing what one should whether or not one wants. But this kind of discussion you will not get from Buchanan. I learned it as a student of Richard McKeon, who himself employed an operational method. But this did not stop McKeon from assigning Buchanan's book here as reading for his courses. McKeon thought highly of it.  

Contents

NUMBERS
67
PROPORTIONS
76
EQUATIONS
111
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