Fibonacci series

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Feb 16 18:24:52 MST 2001

So tonight we learned that given the following sequence of numbers:

2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55. . .

The combination of any two numbers in succession will give the next number.
For example, 2 + 3 = 5; 3 + 5 = 8; 5 + 8 = 13; 8 + 13 = 21; 13 + 21 = 34;
21 + 34 = 55 and so on.

Furthermore, the ratio of one number over another in the sequence will
hover around 1.618, such as:

--- = 1.6181818

That ratio is the so-called "golden mean" which yields an esthetically
pleasing rectangle, such as the ones that feature heavily in the Greek
Parthenon. It is also used heavily in art and advertising. As Sam Anderson,
the class co-leader, pointed out, you almost never see a square sheet of

But what's really interesting is that the Fibonacci series made its way
into Europe through the Mideast. Now that I am putting the final touches on
a review of Jim Blaut's "8 Eurocentric Historians", that question is very
much on the front burner for me.

Nearly all of the historians argue that the West was more rational than the
East. In the West, you had inventiveness, technology, abstract thought,
freedom imbedded in the Old Testament and Greek slave society. Except for
the Asiatic influence in the Roman Empire, everything that characterized
Western Civilization was unique to the European soil.

However, this does not square with reality at all. Joseph Needham's
voluminous studies on Chinese society explode this racist mythology. So
does the origins of the Fibonacci series. As it turns out, Fibonacci
studied at the University of Salerno in the 15th century when Arab thought
was a powerful influence, particularly through the medium of Jewish
physicians who carried North African learning into Italy. As Hogben points
out, "The Arabs used syncopated expressions with what we would call
equations. Individual authors among the first converts to the Moorish
learning, like the Dominican friar Jordanus (about AD 1220), replaced words
altogether by symbols."

Witnessing today's events in Israel and Iraq, can anybody deny that if true
civilization is to survive, it will be as a result of destroying what the
Eurocentric historians have put on a pedestal?

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list:

More information about the Marxism mailing list