The World's Most Important (and popular) Book


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The Elements of Euclid first published around 300 b.c.e. in Alexandria.

It was -the- exemplar of rigorous axiomatic thinking prior to the middle of the 19-th century c.e.. In addition no person who had not honed his wit on The Elements could be considered well educated. This was true until nearly the end of the 19th century c.e.. Subsequently The Elements (the first two books) have been taught in elementary schools in the Western world.

Archimedes based his work on Euclid, as did Appolonius of Perga (Conics).

Eventually The Elements made it to the Islamic Domains, India and China. A Chinese edition of The Elements was published in China in 1609 c.e.

In some respects The Elements is even more influential than The Bible and was more widely dispersed and read throughout the world. A good deal of modern mathematics was undertaken not only to emulate and expand the axiomatic method, but to mend the logical shortcomings of Euclid's treatment. This was finally done by David Hilbert in 1899 (Grundlagen der Geometrie).

The Element's has preserved Eudoxus' work on proportions (Book V), which foreshadowed the development of real number algebra and analysis by Dedikind and Cantor. The style of logical discourse used in The Elements is based on the conditional syllogism, rather than the categorical syllogism of Aristotle and all mathematical discourse in the professional mathematics journals is stylistically the lineal descendant of The Elements.

My bet is that 2300 years from now, if we have not blown ourselves up or wrecked civilization, The Elements will still be published and used as an introduction to axiomatic and a whetstone of with.

Axiomatic thinking was Greece's positive unique gift to the human race and The Elements is the vehicle by which it was carried down over more than two thousand years.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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The Elements of Euclid first published around 300 b.c.e. in Alexandria.

It was -the- exemplar of rigorous axiomatic thinking prior to the middle of the 19-th century c.e.. In addition no person who had not honed his wit on The Elements could be considered well educated. This was true until nearly the end of the 19th century c.e.. Subsequently The Elements (the first two books) have been taught in elementary schools in the Western world.

(snip of some very good content, for brevity...)

My bet is that 2300 years from now, if we have not blown ourselves up or wrecked civilization, The Elements will still be published and used as an introduction to axiomatic and a whetstone of with.

Axiomatic thinking was Greece's positive unique gift to the human race and The Elements is the vehicle by which it was carried down over more than two thousand years.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Good nomination. Certainly The Elements should be on anybody's short list for influential books. The best example of axiomatic thinking/reasoning for many, many centuries.

Alfonso

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Ba'al:

~ I don't know about 'popular' (haven't seen it on the best-seller list for a while), but definitely the most 'influential' book. Without that, where would our math teaching (be such as it now is) be? In that respect, it's got more influence than any version of 'the' Bible. --- Hope things stay that way, but...

LLAP

J:D

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Ba'al:

~ I don't know about 'popular' (haven't seen it on the best-seller list for a while), but definitely the most 'influential' book. Without that, where would our math teaching (be such as it now is) be? In that respect, it's got more influence than any version of 'the' Bible. --- Hope things stay that way, but...

LLAP

J:D

Euclid's Elements has been in continuous publication longer than the bible and has gone through more "reprints" than the Bible. Perhaps "popular" was not the right word, But "influential" surely is. Up until about the middle of the 19th no European or Brit could call himself educated unless he had struggled with The Elements at least up through Book VI. I American schools The Elements is still the basis of the plane geometry courses but it only goes through Book II. For many American kids, The Elements is their only exposure to deductive thinking in a pure unalloyed form.

Geometry has been rendered more sophisticated and (alas) more obscure to many, since it has been transformed into an algebraic form for the most part. Synthetic Geometry has been largely supplanted by some analytic version, particularly differential geometry which is the form most useful for doing physics.

If civilization survives somewhere in the world for another 2000 years, I am sure The Elements will still be among the books read by the educated folk.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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