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Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Etymology of the word mathematics

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From: Sendhil Revuluri

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2003071705:47:21
Subject: Re: Etymology of the word mathematics

According to Lewis Thomas in "Et Cetera, Et Cetera", as quoted on http://lhall-mac.math.umr.edu/quotes/LThomas2.html: "The Indo European root for "mathematics', prophesying the whole future of the enterprise, was mendh, meaning learn. Not a root suggesting something natural, lying around in the world waiting to be picked up. On the contrary, a new, ungiven human activity, requiring lots of hard thought and hard work, even possibly, at the end of the day, unattainable. But mendh, learning something, also implies something peculiarly pleasurable for the human mind, with cognates carrying the meaning of awake, alert, wise, and eager."

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