by Rev Reingard Knausenberger
Each month one of these world views will be expanded.
In many ways we are all mathematists, e.g. when we strive to understand and search for meaning; when we try to find consensus in a meeting or look for a common denominator in a complex of questions; or even hope to find the one formula that can apply to every aspect of the world. In conversations and debates we look out for the one point where our reasoning can attach itself to shed light on a topic.
The studies that Plato specified as most effective in preparing the mind for understanding are the so-called mathematical subjects, consisting of number itself, music, geometry, and astronomy. Geometry being the purest visible expression of number. The effect of its study is to lead the mind upward onto levels of Reason, where its premises are rooted. It then provides the bridge or ladder by which the mind can achieve its highest level in the realm of pure intelligence, or pure thinking. In geometry it is easy to experience the bridge between the One and the Many. The circle, for example, as the abstract model of the perfect form, the unchanging, unmanifest One. From this drives the Many: the expressions in nature where roundness manifests (berries, nests, dandelions, eyeballs, planet orbits), in art, design, architecture.
No wonder that there is hope that mathematics will find the answer for the great ‘riddle of the universe’ and distil from within the complexity of the Many the abstract simplicity of Oneness. This can also be turned around: to see in the One the hidden potential which appears as the active creative principle at work in the cosmos and human being, creating a world of wonder and beauty, synchronicity and harmony in every detail.
Among the disciples of Jesus, the tax collector Matthew suggests that he is a true mathematist. The ingenious composition of the Gospel of Matthew shows the ability of someone able to grasp the essential while integrating finest detail into a whole meaningful complex. It will not go unnoticed by the attentive reader of this Gospel how it effects a very deep sense of order. In studying the precision in observation and the artistic weaving of detail into an overarching wholeness a masterly composition is revealed, built on a matrix of mathematical principles, opening up new vistas of understanding. One can well imagine why in Christian art an angel is attributed to Matthew as the inspiring genius, a being able to ‘look from above’, with the power of pure selfless thinking.
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