A cure for economic catastrophe and sore feet

I’m feeling glum because I’ve hurt my foot – this is a bad thing, as I dance, a lot. So I reached for some comfort reading this morning, and picked up an old favourite, [amazon_link id=”069112292X” target=”_blank” ]A Century in Books[/amazon_link], a 2005 celebration of the centenary of Princeton University Press. It picks a book a year to describe in a page or so, illustrating both the intellectual contribution and the range of titles published over the years (I should add, this is my publisher so I may be biased). Just leafing through it makes one feel better educated, even as a dabbler in the great world of scholarship.

[amazon_image id=”069112292X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]A Century in Books: Princeton University Press 1905-2005[/amazon_image]

Today I turned to the description of 1945’s [amazon_link id=”0140124993″ target=”_blank” ]How To Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method[/amazon_link] by George Polya. Apparently it shows how to use the mathematical method to tackle non-mathematical problems, and has never been out of print. I like his advice: “In order to solve this differential equation, you look at it until a solution occurs to you.” Sounds like it would indeed be applicable in many contexts.

[amazon_image id=”0691023565″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method (Princeton Paperbacks, No. 246)[/amazon_image]

Another one that found me was on [amazon_link id=”B0049N1H3S” target=”_blank” ]The Edge of Objectivity: An Essay in the History of Scientific Ideas[/amazon_link] by Charles Coulston Gillespie, a 1960 volume on the history of science. It seems the author argues that science is the ‘progressive development of more objective, detached, mathematical ways of viewing the world.’

I wonder what he would have made of this interesting article on the tyranny of narratives? In discussion on Twitter yesterday, I think we concluded that one could try to stand outside a specific narrative but it would require empathy rather than reason.

Anyway, peering at the economic and political catastrophe out there in the world, I’ll stay inside the tower of books, at least until my foot gets better.