[FOM] quotation from Weyl

Julio Gonzalez Cabillon jgc at adinet.com.uy
Fri Dec 26 12:44:47 EST 2003

Dear Roman Murawski,

I think that the passage you are seeking in Weyl's writings is:

    "We now come to the decisive step of mathematical
    abstraction: we forget about what the symbols stand for.
    The mathematician is concerned with the catalogue alone;
    he is like the man in the catalogue room who does not
    care what books or pieces of an intuitively given
    manifold the symbols of his catalogue denote. He need
    not be idle; there are many operations which he may
    carry out with these symbols, without ever having to
    look at the things they stand for."

which is contained in the classic "The Mathematical Way of Thinking",
an address given by Hermann Weyl at the Bicentennial Conference at
the University of Pennsylvania, in 1940. It was first published in
_Science_, in 1940, volume 92, pp. 437-446, and later reproduced in
James R. Newman's "The World of Mathematics" (volume 3).

Very best wishes to you all for 2004.


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