Nay, the same Solomon the king, although he excelled in the glory of treasure and
magnificent buildings, of shipping and navigation, of service and attendance, of fame
and renown, and the like, yet he maketh no claim to any of those glories, but only    
to the glory of inquisition of truth; for so he saith expressly, "The glory of God is      
to conceal a thing, but the glory of the king is to find it out"; as if, according to        
the innocent play of children, the Divine Majesty took delight to hide his works,      
to the end to have them found out; and as if kings could not obtain a greater honour
than to be God's play-fellows in that game.                                                                

-Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning (1605)

Instructor:       Allen J.     Mauney
Contact Info:
                        867 5458
Office:             Lib 3210
CRN:  40131
M through Th, 9a to1p
Lab I 1047
8 credits, first session


    An ancient Greek story about the relationship between humanity, the beast, knowledge, the divine, heroism, survival, and everything else, basically, takes place in a labyrinth. Evidently, lots of important things are happening in those
twisty corridors, and we are going to find out about someof them.
    The story of Theseus, the Minotaur, Daedalus, Icarus, and the labyrinth will be a good starting point to explore the labyrinth as a widespread image in literature and culture. I am interested in the labyrinth as a metaphor for the scientific method and in particular of the mathematical method of representing the world.
    Jorge Luis Borges used the labyrinth as a central image again and again in his stories. I read Borges again and again because I love his work. Last quarter I used Labyrinths in a program – hence, I am using Borges again in this program.
    Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose is a tabloid, literary, theological, historical thriller: mysterious Latin passages! monk murdered in barrel of pig blood! an actual labyrinth! secret code! the Inquisition! visions of the end of the world! Need I say more?
    Perceived from outside the field, mathematics can appear to be a vast, threatening maze of arcane symbols and procedures. But that shouldn’t stop us from plunging headlong into it anyway. A little geometry, a little work with numbers, and some basic code making/breaking and we’re done. All in good fun, of course.
    There will be seminar papers, homework, group presentations, individual final projects, and a potluck. There may be a field trip. Oh, and we will (hopefully) build a labyrinth on the campus.


Book list:

Collected Fictions
Jorge Luis Borges
Penguin Books
ISBN 01402.86802

The Name of the Rose
Umberto Eco
Publisher: Harvest Books; (September 1994)
ISBN: 0156001314

The Key to the Name of the Rose
Adele J. Haft, et. al.
Publisher: University of Michigan Press; (August 1999)
ISBN: 0472086219

Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing
Martin Gardner
Publisher: Dover Pubns; (October 1984)
ISBN: 0486247619