5. Proclus: 410-485 A.D.

Proclus was trained at Alexandria and then moved to Athens, where he devoted himself to Neo-Platonic philosophy, and became the head of that school:

"Propaedeutic" means a piece of learning that prepares you for something else. In Proclus' opinion, mathematics was a means to an end: an exercise to prepare young minds for the philosophical life. We all know that geometry has a multitude of practical applications, but to large degree it is still taught for the same reasons that Proclus had in mind: propaedeusis.

Geometry was apparently used as a propaedeutic even a few generations before Euclid. Dunham (28) quotes the often cited phrase that was supposedly inscribed over the door to Plato's Academy in Athens, "Let no man ignorant of geometry enter here." Dunham continues, "we might say that Plato regarded geometry as the ideal entrance requirement, the Scholastic Aptitude Test of his day."