chapter  1
32 Pages

Numeracy in Seventeenth-Century England

Marked population growth, monetary inflation, and overseas discoveries stretched the boundaries of thought and custom in ways that called to mi nd size, number, and measure. Certainly it was an indulgence in hyperbole for the author of the paean to arithmetic, Thomas Hill, to single out counting as the essence of humanity, the skill that distinguished man from the beasts. But the exaggeration served to emphasize the paramount importance of arithmetic in a country rapidly becoming a center of commercial capitalism.