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Mathematical Treasure: Lamy's Mathematical Works

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Bernard Lamy (1640-1715) was a French Catholic priest, philosopher, theologian, and prolific author. A follower of Descartes and a strong advocate of Cartesianism, Lamy produced several significant works in mathematics. His collected works, Ouvrages de mathematique (Mathematical Works), appeared in 1734. The work is in three volumes: the first two consider mathematics; the third is an eclectic mix, including a biography of Lamy, correspondence, and writings on physics. The following images are from Volume I of Lamy’s Mathematical Works.

The frontispiece depicts an allegory of mathematics, a woman holding a barrel gauging stick, appropriate for a wine drinking country, and a drawing square. At her feet are scattered the paraphernalia of mathematics and she observes a cherub drawing geometric diagrams.

The “Table of Contents” for volume I outlines its scope.

The first two volumes are divided into six books, each focusing on specific areas of mathematics. On page 417, the mathematics of the conic sections is introduced.

These images were obtained through the courtesy of ETH-Bibliothek Zürich. The book may be viewed in its entirety at e-rara:

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Lamy's Mathematical Works," Convergence (February 2018)