SEMANTICS OF THE DIFFERENTIAL CALCULUS 575 |
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The application of the differential calculus to geometry produced differential geometry. This prepared the way for the notions of Einstein and Minkowski.
The whole of modern physics becomes possible through the calculus, and it will probably be correct to say that the achievements of the future also will be dependent on it.
The present work is also to a large extent inspired by it, and develops simple non-technical methods by which the psycho-logical structural
s.r necessitated by the calculus can be given to the masses in elementary education without any technical knowledge of it. This statement does not include teachers, who should be acquainted with at least the rudiments of the calculus.^{2}It is true that in the beginning we did not suspect that the semantics of the calculus are indispensable in education for
sanity. It is the only structural method which can reconcile the as yet irreconcilable higher and lower order abstractions. Without such a reconciliation, at our present level of development, sanity is a matter of good luck quite beyond our conscious or educational control.A function may have more than one independent variable; in which case we have a function of several variables. It happens frequently that to one value of the independent variable there may correspond several values of the dependent variable. Then
y is said to be a multiple-valued function of x.Roughly speaking, a function is said to be continuous if a small increment in the variable gives rise to a small increment of the function.
A theory of functions can be developed without any references to graphs and geometrical notions of co-ordinates and lengths; but in practice (and in this work), it is extremely useful to introduce these geometrical notions, as they help intuition. A modern definition of an analytic function is technical and unnecessary for our purpose. Suffice it to say that it is connected with derivatives and power series,
which means structure.Geometry is a very remarkable science. It may be treated as pure mathematics, or it may be treated as physics. It may therefore be used as a link between the two or as a link between the higher and lower order of abstractions. This fact is of tremendous psycho-logical and semantic importance. It is not by pure 'chance' that the most important writers on mathematical philosophy, authors who have generalized their knowledge of mathematics to include human results, were mostly geometers.
Indeed, Whitehead, in his Universal Algebra (p. 32), says, and justly so, that a treatise on universal algebra is also a treatise on certain generalized notions of 'space'. 'Space' should be understood as 'fulness', 'fulness of some- |
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