The Renaissance Mathematicus – A users guide

It occurred to me that over the recent months and years I have acquired a whole new crop of readers, who I have not welcomed or explained the house rules and so to rectify this omission, I have written this post.


First off, if you are new around here then welcome and I hope you enjoy yourself reading my humble scribblings. If you want to know more about me then go here. There is really only one house rule: I am the god of this blog and what I say goes! Although open to the public, this is not a public forum but my private, personal space for expressing my thoughts on the histories of science, mathematics, technology and medicine. I write those thoughts down, in the first instance, for myself and for nobody else and do not consider a potential audience when writing. However, anybody who wishes to do so is welcome to read those thoughts but remember this is my place so don’t piss on the carpet. As the name of my blog would suggest I write mostly about the mathematical sciences during the European Renaissance but I reserve the right to write about any other topic that might interest me. A more detailed account can be read here.

Trigger warnings:

1) Bad language!

I am an Englishman and whilst I don’t use swear words as punctuation like some of my fellow Brits or indeed swear like the proverbial drunken sailor, I do on occasions, when I feel like it, use so called strong or bad language. I have even used the f-word in a blog post title because I thought it was appropriate. I still do. If you strongly object to such language don’t complain, nobody is forcing you to read my blog.

2) Bad grammar and terrible orthography

If you are one of those who gets their nickers in a twist about split infinitives and misspelt words then be warned I suffer from dysgraphia, which means that on a bad day a blog post can be liberally sprinkled with typos and grammatical horrors.Or to put it another way I’m an orthographic anarchist. In fact, as I once wrote in a post, one of the reasons I started blogging was to overcome my fear of writing caused by my dysgraphia and the English school system. I have over the years made quite a lot of progress but I sure as hell ain’t perfect. If you severely criticise my orthographic failings out of some sort of feelings of moral superiority (and yes it happens!) I will simply delete your comments and block you. Remember, I am the god of this blog! However, I regard my readers as my unpaid copy editors or proofreaders and if you point out any errors that you spot, either in the comments or per email, in a friendly manner, I will be grateful and thank you.

The comments:


I actually welcome comments. I even welcome being told that I am wrong by somebody, who is better informed than I am and many, many people are better informed than I am. Being shown that I am wrong means that I have learnt something and I love learning things. For the same reason I also enjoy further or new information on the topic of my post. However, if your complaint is a matter of opinion, with which I disagree, you can expect me to fight my corner. If you try to use my comments as a pulpit for your own shit, whatever that might be, I will delete your comments and I will block you. Remember, I am the god of this blog!


Welcome aboard and I hope you enjoy the ride.



Filed under Autobiographical, Uncategorized

6 responses to “The Renaissance Mathematicus – A users guide

  1. Fear of the god of the blog is the beginning of all wisdom.

  2. It is a pleasure to meet another orthographic anarchist. The causes of our anarchic attitude may differ but as someone working at present in the art and history of the world before Johnson, dictionaries and the urge to universal uniformity in written expression, I think it important to make clear that writing the same word in five different forms isn’t necessarily ignorance: it reflects accurately the state of things, and the mental attitude, of the period in question. Besides, imposed uniformity always gets my goat: I will conform if I feel like it and differ as I wish – and take the consequences. Hooray for anarchism. 🙂

    • I hope I am not straying too far from the subject of this piece, but what do you say of what I understood to be the orthodoxy that orthographic and indeed grammatical uniformity was led by printers emphasising the advantages of their technology over manuscript reproduction of text? On this argument dictionaries served the role of vocabulary style manuals.

      • Gavin – Oh there’s a fair uniformity in Latin manuscripts before the introduction of printing – and models in older Latin works existed for the literate class. But in use of the vernacular – whether in writing or in printing, an idea of ‘right spelling’ comes later, as we see from archives of private correspondence, across the period from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. (Sorry, Thony.. OT)

    • thonyc

      I do not consider this to be off topic at all. As Mr O’Donovan says in the vernacular the introduction of a fixed or correct spelling comes long after the introduction of printing. In English (Johnson) and German (Grimm) the first dictionaries are both second half of the eighteenth century and probably didn’t become universally accepted till well into the nineteenth century.

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