A moral outlook

Jeffrey Sachs launched his new book, The Age of Sustainable Development, at Columbia today.  He ended his presentation with a list of four “special responsibilities of universities in sustainable development,” the last of which was

Fostering and protecting a moral outlook at least partially protected from the burdens and intrusions of commercial society.

Mathematics without Apologies makes no direct contribution to sustainable development, unfortunately, but that sentence is a very good description of the “relaxed field” of mathematical research that is endangered by the “entrepreneurial mindset” described in Chapters 3 and 10.  One of the purposes of this blog will be to clarify the difference between the “moral outlook” of the “relaxed field” and the attitude of “mathematics for art’s sake,” which is not a value defended by the book.


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