Author’s Prefaces

Preface to the Second Edition

Since the appearance of this work, the teaching of mathematics, and partic-

ularly of geometry, has undergone some profound modiﬁcations, not just in its

details, but in its whole spirit, changes which have been awaited for a long time

and are universally desired. In working with beginners, we now tend to rely on

practice and intuition, rather than on the Euclidean method, whose utility they are

incapable of understanding.

On the other hand, it is clear that we must return to this method when we

revisit these early starts, and complete them. It is to this stage of education that

our book corresponds, and thus we have not had to change its character.

But even in the area of rigorous logic, the classical exposition was uselessly

complicated and scholastic in its ﬁrst chapter, the one devoted to angles. The

convention—unchanged up to the present—which does not permit us to talk of

circles in the ﬁrst book, renders matters obscure which, in themselves, are perfectly

clear and natural. Thus this is a place which we have been able to notably simplify

things, by introducing arcs of circles into the discussion of angles. We had already

departed from the traditional considerations of continuity on which the existence

of perpendiculars is often based; the simple artiﬁce which replaced it has itself now

become superfluous.

In the same way, the measure of the central angle is naturally integrated into

the theory of angles, its correct logical place.

The second book gains no less than the ﬁrst by this change in order. The

fundamental property of the inscribed angle, indeed, is no longer connected to angle

measure, a connection which gives one an idea of this property and its signiﬁcance

which is as false as could be.

With this exception, the plan of the work as a whole has been preserved. In

fact, the complementary materials introduced by the program of 1902 had been

already covered in our ﬁrst edition. The program of 1905, which has reduced the

importance of these materials, has not until now obliged us to do any essential

revision. It requires only a single addition: the inverter of Peaucellier. Having

made this addition, the only complementary material remaining in this revision,

at least in plane

geometry3

is inversion and its applications, which corresponds to

Chapters V–VII of our Complements.

3I

note in this regard, that I have never attempted—despite the advocacy of such a step by

M. M´ eray, whose initiative has proved so fertile and so fortunate in the teaching of geometry—to

mix plane and solid geometry together. As this is preferable from a purely logical point of view,

I would like very much to do this. But it seems to me that from a pedagogical point of view, we

must think, ﬁrst and foremost, of dividing up the diﬃculties. That of “spatial visualization” is so

serious in and of itself, that I haven’t considered adding it to the other diﬃculties initially.

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