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Mathematical Treasure: Christian Wolff's Foundations of Mathematics

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Christian Wolff (1679-1754) was a German Rationalist philosopher of the Enlightenment Period. He was a prolific author and wrote several works on mathematics, the most ambitious of which was his 1710 Anfangs-Gründe aller Mathematischen Wissenschafften (Foundations of All Mathematical Knowledge). This is the title page of the 1772 edition with the author proudly observing his work from the frontispiece:                                               

The following selection of illustrative plates from the text attests to the geometric instruction provided. Note the emphasis on the use of measuring instruments and the demonstration of surveying situations.                                               

The images above were obtained from the Rare Book Collection at Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Christian Wolff's Foundations of Mathematics," Convergence (February 2016)