Probability and Statistical Inference in Ancient and Medieval Jewish Literature
Published: December 1973© 1973
220 Pages, 5.50 x 8.60 x 0.70 in
This book throws new light on the origins of probability and statistics. Heretofore these were thought to be entirely the creation of recent centuries, but it is demonstrated here that probability has a much longer history, reaching back to biblical times. Study of the Talmudic sources, with frequent reference to selected commentaries, as well as post-Talmudic sources, reveals that such reasoning was used by Talmudic rabbis from the first centuries of the Christian era in dealing with juridical problems. The Talmudic rabbis even formulated the rudimentary rules of the arithmetic of probabilities and later also the mathematical theory of combinations and permutations. It is shown that almost all the conceptions of probability which are entertained today, as well as some of the enigmas which beset contemporary philosophers of probability and induction, are described in the rabbinic writings.
Readers interested in the history of ideas and the philosophy of science, the development of logic and mathematics, as well as students of Jewish thought and medieval philosophy, will find much to engage their attention.