Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott

Flatland is a mathematical essay, meant to explain a point: that higher dimensions (more than length, depth and width) may be present in our universe, but if they are, it will be nearly impossible for us to understand them.

The story itself consists of a two dimensional world (Flatland), in which there are people of assorted shapes. These shapes live regular lives, just as we do. The protagonist (a square), is visited by a sphere, which tries to explain to him the existence of a third dimension. This proves difficult, though, because to the square in flatland, the sphere appears to be nothing more than a circle that can expand, contract, disappear and reappear.

In the course of the explanation, the book also describes “Lineland,” a one dimensional world where the inhabitants would also have trouble understanding dimensions above their own.

This book’s excellence lies in the way it takes a complex topic and breaks it down into a metaphor that can be more easily understood. It argues quite well that if there is a fourth dimension, it probably isn’t “time.”

For me the layers are:

First,one can see the book as a fiction world building book, where several rather distopic societies are described with correct curious explanations, as the vission ,conunication, sexuality and mobility.

Second,as a mathematical book, where the concepts of dimensionality and the relations between geometrical figures in different dimensions are very well and correctly explained.

Third,as a social satire of the extremely stratified victorian society, with allmost no social mobility.

Fourth,as a critic to the oppresion and despise of the woman in this time, in this misoginic socities.

Fifth,as a critic to the no freedom of thought and intolerance,with veiled reference to religious intolerance as the leading class is the sacerdotal class.

Sixth,as a joke on the metaphysical ontological concept of god in the tomist philosophy,when in the adimensiona world, the adimensional being,a point,says that he is a pure being without contingency,that he is the whole existence;this is conceptually correct as a point has no parts ,no structure and by that indestructible.

A surprisigly wonderful book

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