BLTC Press Titles

available for Kindle at

Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

Vanity Fair

William Thackery

Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

Lectures on the logic of arithmetic

by Mary Everest Boole



My Dear Friend,

But for your resolute energy I think I should never have communicated to the educational world the method which I have long used for reviving the faculties of children suffering from mathematical rickets and logical paralysis. These diseases are common; they are induced by the practice of teaching mathematical processes on a hypothesis about the nature of Mathematics directly opposed to that which underlies the original invention and formulation of these processes.

I have, as you know, taken no part in recent attempts to improve methods of teaching, because, as James Hinton said, I can see no use in trying to invent good methods for teaching truth on a basis of falsehood ; the only remedy in which I have any faith is to tell the pupil one or two simple laws of the relation of the human mind to Scientific Truth, and then to see that he forms the habit of working in accordance with those laws.

For nearly forty years, authorities of various kinds have been assuring me that it would be impossible to do this except in individual cases ; that the public will not tolerate being shown the glowing heart of the mathematical discoverer, will not dare to let itself know to what virgin inspiration it is paying homage when it confers medals and honours on an original mathematician.

Your Ladyship has intervened in the situation, refusing to see objections and difficulties, or to take ' no' for an answer. You insist that the public shall at least have the option of deciding for itself whether its children shall know what lies at the heart of genuine Mathematical Science. I must therefore ask you to accept your share of the responsibility of offering to parents and teachers what I fear is after all only a very feeble presentation of Arithmetic treated as a branch of the Art of Thinking, founded on the general Science of the Laws of Thought.

Yours affectionately,

M. E. Boole.


The motto chosen for the title-page of this little work may seem unsuitable as an Introduction to a course of lessons on Arithmetic; a subject which to many persons seems so eminently un-heavenly and dull. But then, the main reason why it seems so is that their teachers failed to put them in possession of that ' Recovered Past,' the bearing of which on the Present forms the great clue to that knowledge of subtle forces which gives its possessor the key of the Future.

The present little volume is not intended to interfere with ordinary methods of teaching Arithmetic, or to supersede the books already in use. It can be used under any School system and in conjunction with any text-book. Not more than one chapter is intended for use in any one term ; the earlier chapters are suited to little children, the later ones for children of fourteen or fifteen. The lesson for the term may be repeated each week with varying illustrations.

Teachers of such subjects as Electricity complain of the difficulty of getting pupils to apply what they know of Mathematics (at whatever level) to the analysis and manipulation of real forces. It is not that the pupil does not know enough (of Arithmetic, or Algebra, or the Calculus, as the case may be), but he too often does not see, and cannot be got to see, how to apply what he knows. Some faculty has been paralysed during his school-life; he lacks something of what should constitute a living mathematical intelligence. In truth he usually lacks several things.

In the first place, though he knows a good deal about antithesis of operations (e.g. he knows that subtraction is the opposite of addition, division of multiplication, movement in the direction minus — x of movement in the direction x, and so on), he has not the habit of observing in what respects antithetic operations neutralize each other, and in what respects they are cumulative; and surely no habit is more needed than this as preparation for making calculations in electricity or mechanics.

... from the RetroRead library, using Google Book Search, and download any of the books already converted to Kindle format.

Browse the 100 most recent additions to the RetroRead library

Browse the library alphabetically by title

Make books:

Login or register to convert Google epubs to Kindle ebooks



Lost your password?

Not a member yet? Register here, and convert any Google epub you wish

Powerd by Calibre powered by calibre