Mathematics and melancholy. From Albrecht Dürer to Robert Musil. (Mathematik und Melancholie. Von Albrecht Dürer bis Robert Musil.) (German) Zbl 0884.01053

Abhandlungen der Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftlichen Klasse, Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur Mainz. 1997(1). Stuttgart: Steiner. 27 p. (1997).
This essay illustrates some aspects of the relationship between melancholy and mathematics. First of all the author describes the notion of melancholy in its historical development relying on Panofsky’s, Saxl’s, and Klibansky’s well-known book “Saturn and melancholy” (Frankfurt/Main 1990). Then he explains why in his opinion mathematicians are melancholiacs inserting an own experience concerning the demonstration of the equivalence of two closure theorems. The last section deals with A. Dürer and R. Musil as melancholiacs. He ends by saying, that the mathematician makes an agreement with the devil, for which he has to pay earlier than expected.


01A80 Sociology (and profession) of mathematics
01A40 History of mathematics in the 15th and 16th centuries, Renaissance
00A30 Philosophy of mathematics