Collapse Volume III, 140–155


Mathesis, Science and Philosophy


It might be interesting to define mathesis in terms of its relations with science and philosophy. Inevitably, such a definition remains to some extent external to mathesis itself; it is simple, provisional, and tends only to show that, beyond any particular historical moment, mathesis describes one of the great ever-present attitudes of mind. That is to say that one will find in the following only a critique of the arguments that scientists and philosophers tend to invoke against mathesis, and above all a specification of how the word ‘initiated’ ought to be understood. Not that we should forget, certainly, the plane of Indian civilisation within which mathesis was deployed; this is most essential. For we will not say that mathesis can be abstracted, in any measure, from this civilisation; but only that at the heart of our Western mentality can be discerned certain fundamental needs which, already, can only be satisfied by mathesis – as a sort of introduction, a preface to itself. From this point of view, Dr. Malfatti’s book presents a capital interest. No doubt, other works have since appeared which delve deeper into Indian consciousness, but few introduce the notion of mathesis in itself, in terms of its relations with science and philosophy, better than the present work…