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Mansion, Paul


(b. Marchin, near Huy, Belgium, 3 June 1844; d. Ghent, Belgium, 16 April 1919), mathematics, history and philosophy of science.

Mansion was a professor at the University of Ghent, member of the Royal Academy of Belgium, and director of the Journal Mathesis. He entered the École Normale des Sciences at Ghent in 1862; and by the age of twenty-three he was teaching advanced courses. He held an eminent position in the scientific world of Belgium despite his extreme narrow-mindedness. In 1874 he founded, with Eugène-Charles Catalan and J. Neuberg, the Nouvelle correspondance mathématique; this title was chosen in memory of the Correspondance mathématique et physique, edited by Garnier and Adolphe Quetelet. Through the efforts of Mansion and Neuberg, who were encouraged by Catalan himself, the Nouvelle correspondance was succeeded in 1881 by Mathesis. Mansion retired in 1910.

Alphonse Demoulin’s notice on Mansion (1929) includes a bibliography of 349 items, some of which were published in important foreign compendia. Several others appeared in German translation. Mansion’s own French translations of works by Riemann, Julius Plücker, Clebsch, Dante, and even Cardinal Manning attest to the extent of his interests. Among other subjects, he taught the history of mathematics and of the physical sciences, in which field he wrote in particular on Greek astronomy, Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler. His desire to justify the positions of Catholic orthodoxy is evident.


A bibliography of Mansion’ works is in the notice by A. Demoulin, in Annuaire de l’Académie royale de Belgique, 95 (1929), 77–147. On Mansion’s life and work see L. Godeaux, in Biographie nationale publiée par l’Académie royale de Belgique, XXX (Brussels, 1959), 540–542; and in Florilège des sciences en Belgique pendant le 19° siècle et le début du 20° siècle (Brussels, 1968), 129–132.

J. Pelseneer

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