The Minute Mathematician

By James Jurin

The Minute Mathematician, by James Jurin (writing under the pseudonym of Philalethes Cantabrigiensis) is available here in the following formats:

The Plain TeX input file is also available, as is a METAPOST input file to generate the figures.

The well-known philosopher George Berkeley had written The Analyst, criticising the methods of the infinitesimal calculus and of fluxions. James Jurin responded with a pamphlet entitled Geometry no Friend to Infidelity; or a Defence of Sir Isaac Newton and the British Mathematicians, James Jurin had responded to George Berkeley's criticism of the methods of the infinitesimal calculus and Newton's method of fluxions, in the writing under the pseudonym of Philalethes Cantabrigiensis. Berkeley responded to Jurin with A Defence of Free-Thinking in Mathematics, to which Jurin in turn responded with The Minute Mathematician.

This was the end of the controversy between Jurin and Berkeley. However Jurin's defence of the methods of Isaac Newton were considered in certain respects unsatisfactory by Benjamin Robins, who had written A Discourse concerning the Nature and Certainty of Sir Isaac Newton's Methods of Fluxions and of Prime and Ultimate Ratios in response to Berkeley's The Analyst. Robins made oblique reference to his disagreement with Jurin's approach in an account of his Discourse, which he published in The Present State of the Republick of Letters. Jurin responded to the points made by Robins in the same journal and a controversy developed, initially conducted with exemplary courtesy on both sides but subsequently becoming very acrimonious.

The text is based on the original 1735 edition.


D.R. Wilkins
School of Mathematics
Trinity College, Dublin