Mathematics as a Liberal Art for Human Flourishing

Francis Su is the Benediktsson-Karwa Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College and a former president of the Mathematical Association of America. Earlier this year, he published Mathematics for Human Flourishing, a readable, passionate defense of math as a liberal art. Francis has a rare gift for doing high level mathematics and writing about it in a compelling way for a broad audience. He hopes that everyone will come to see the beauty of mathematics and find delight in cultivating their own numerical capacities. As he claims in this book, “A society without mathematical affection is like a city without concerts, parts, or museums. To miss out on mathematics is to live without an opportunity to play with beautiful ideas and see the world in a new light. To grasp mathematical beauty is a unique and sublime experience that everyone should demand.”

Jeff Bilbro talks with Francis about why math sometimes gets forgotten in discussions about the liberal arts, how math might relate to politics, whether we can come to love math (and other intellectual endeavors) without losing their extrinsic goods, and much more.

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