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Topic: [HM] Weil and sculpture
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David Corfield

Posts: 10
Registered: 12/3/04
[HM] Weil and sculpture
Posted: May 22, 2003 5:38 AM
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In a letter to his sister Simone, Andre Weil writes:

You doubt and with good reason that modern axiomatics is serious work.
When I invented

(I say invented, and not discovered) uniform spaces, I did not have the
impression of working

with resistant material, but rather the impression that a professional
sculptor must have when

he plays by making a snowman.

(Translation by Martin Krieger in his very interesting 'Doing
Mathematics' World Scientific

Publishing 2003)

Now I have a faint memory of Weil likening doing mathematics to
sculpting from a hard rock

(porphyry?), and mentioning Michelangelo's notion that one is freeing
the sculpture from the

rock. If so, this would suggest a distinction he's making between the
ease with which one

can invent a 'flabby' concept to embrace some range of instances and the
sensitivity required to

get things right in other situations.

Is my memory playing tricks on me?

David Corfield

Faculty of Philosophy

10 Merton St.

Oxford OX1 4JJ

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