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Topic: [HM] Quotations from Godel
Replies: 21   Last Post: May 5, 2005 5:23 PM

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Fred Shapiro

Posts: 23
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: [HM] "Pure Mathematics" Quote
Posted: Oct 8, 2004 2:45 PM
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On Fri, 8 Oct 2004, William C Waterhouse wrote:

> Here is the early source for Smith's toast. I'll quote
> the whole paragraph, as it may interest other readers.
> <snip>

> This is taken from Alexander Macfarlane, _Ten British Mathematicians
> of the Nineteenth Century_ (1916), 63-4. The text is that of lectures
> he gave in 1903-1904, and the editors in their introduction say that

Since posting my query, I have done a little research and found evidence
that casts some doubt on the idea that Smith originated this saying:

"Carried to an extreme, the eulogy of such men and their work is expressed
in the toast of the Mathematical society of England: 'Pure mathematics;
may it never be of use to any man!"
Science, 10 Dec. 1886, p. 543

It is possible that the Mathematical Society got its toast from Smith, but
in the absence of further evidence this is speculative.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
Access and Lecturer in Legal Research Yale University Press,
Yale Law School forthcoming

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