Descartes's Secret Notebook: A True Tale of Mathematics, Mysticism, and the Quest to Understand the Universe

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Crown/Archetype, Feb 19, 2009 - Science - 288 pages
19 Reviews
René Descartes (1596—1650) is one of the towering and central figures in Western philosophy and mathematics. His apothegm “Cogito, ergo sum” marked the birth of the mind-body problem, while his creation of so-called Cartesian coordinates has made our intellectual conquest of physical space possible.

But Descartes had a mysterious and mystical side, as well. Almost certainly a member of the occult brotherhood of the Rosicrucians, he kept a secret notebook, now lost, most of which was written in code. After Descartes’s death, Gottfried Leibniz, inventor of calculus and one of the greatest mathematicians of all time, moved to Paris in search of this notebook–and eventually found it in the possession of Claude Clerselier, a friend of Descartes’s. Liebniz called on Clerselier and was allowed to copy only a couple of pages–which, though written in code, he amazingly deciphered there on the spot. Liebniz’s hastily scribbled notes are all we have today of Descartes’s notebook.

Why did Descartes keep a secret notebook, and what were its contents? The answers to these questions will lead the reader on an exciting, swashbuckling journey, and offer a fascinating look at one of the great figures of Western culture.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

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Review: Descartes's Secret Notebook: A True Tale of Mathematics, Mysticism, and the Quest to Understand the Universe

User Review  - Dan Armstrong - Goodreads

This was a curious book, somewhat interesting, but too much supposition. Read full review

Review: Descartes's Secret Notebook: A True Tale of Mathematics, Mysticism, and the Quest to Understand the Universe

User Review  - Stephen Hackney - Goodreads

Amir Aczel writes in a rich, informative manner. The author is thoroughly well versed in the history of his subject. In being so, the author is able to deliver to the reader the historical connections ... Read full review

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About the author (2009)

AMIR D. ACZEL is the author of many research articles on mathematics, two textbooks, and nine nonfiction books, including the international bestseller Fermat's Last Theorem, which was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Award. Aczel has appeared on over thirty television programs, including nationwide appearances on CNN, CNBC, and Nightline, and on over a hundred radio programs, including NPR's Weekend Edition and Morning Edition. Aczel is a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.


From the Hardcover edition.

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