Abstract

Throughout his writings, Melville expresses an abiding amateur interest in the foundations of mathematics. In this article, I analyze his mathematical conceits and meta-mathematical discussions, relating them to his metaphysics. Having received a solid early education in math, Melville often alludes to mathematics in his writings, at first for its philosophical connections to Platonic idealism, and later as an illustration of relativism and epistemological frustration. Yet, even after his philosophical disillusionment, subtleties in Melville’s mathematical conceits reveal his lingering connection to Platonism. Ultimately, Melville’s attention to math helps clarify his relationship to art, science, and philosophy, while aptly anticipating a period of upheaval in late nineteenth-century mathematics.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1750-1849
Print ISSN
1525-6995
Pages
pp. 18-34
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-20
Open Access
No
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