For a number of years I have collected excerpts that portray mathematical ideas in a literary or philosophical setting. I had occasion to read a few of these on the last day of some math classes I was teaching, since there was no point in introducing a new subject before the final exam.
I thought it might be interesting to present some of these excerpts now. They roughly fall into three categories: logic, infinities (Zeno’s Paradoxes, infinite regress), and permutations.
(Update 11/16/2019) I realized my excerpt on Philip Gosse was perhaps too brief and may not have made it clear as to what he proposed, so I added two more sentences to the excerpt to clarify. A related historical fiction account of the crisis perpetrated by the fossils, Darwin, and religion in the nineteenth century is given in Tracy Chevalier’s 2009 book, Remarkable Creatures, which adds the dimension of the struggle of women in science.