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# The Sceptical Mathematician: How John Wallis Saved Mathematics for the Royal Society (Amir Alexander, UCLA)

## November 7, 2022 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

The members of the “Invisible College” and the early Royal Society championed an experimental approach to the study of nature as the proper path to the advancement of knowledge and the preservation of civic peace. Mathematics, while admired, was also viewed with suspicion, as potentially dogmatic and coercive. John Wallis, the leading mathematician in the group, set out to reconcile his field with the ideals of the early Royal Society by developing a radical new approach. Whereas traditional mathematics prided itself on irrefutable deductive proofs, Wallis’ approach relied on material intuition, inductive reasoning, and truth-claims founded on consensus, not coercion. It was a new mathematics modeled on the Society’s experimental philosophy.