Edinburgh Review,  1 (1802–03), 407–12.

Art. XII. [Review of On the Necessary Truth of Certain Conclusions Obtained by Means of Imaginary Expressions, by Robert Woodhouse]

James Ivory *



Publications reviewed:

Woodhouse 1801


Mathematics, Logic

People mentioned:

Gottfried Leibniz

    Quoting Robert Woodhouse's defence of imaginary numbers, states: 'The drift of this argument is not very plain. If it is only meant to say that there must be some way or other of accounting for the paradox, that truth is produced by unintelligable operations, or by faulty reasoning, the position will hardly be denied. On the other hand, if it is intended to argue, that every general method, that uniformly leads to true conclusions, must therefore be regulated by the rules of sound logic, the inference cannot be admitted. We are of the opinion that the imaginary arithmetic is one glaring instance of the contrary' (408–09). The review concludes: 'the present paper will be found to contain nothing new or interesting to geometers. It is only incumbent on us to notice, that some just observations occur in discussing the controversy concerning logarithms of negative numbers, towards the end of the paper. We cannot conclude our remarks, without expressing our disapprobation of the mode in which Mr Playfair's method of reasoning is attacked, not openly, and by name, but indirectly, covertly, and by insinuation' (412).

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