John Dee (July 13, 1527 - 1608) was a noted British mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, geographer, occultist, and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I. He also devoted much of his life to alchemy, divination, and Hermetic philosophy.
Dee straddled the worlds of science and magic just as they were becoming distinguishable. One of the most learned men of his time, he had lectured to crowded halls at the University of Paris when still in his early twenties. He was an ardent promoter of mathematics, a respected astronomer and a leading expert in navigation, having trained many of those who would conduct England's voyages of discovery (he coined the term "British Empire"). At the same time, he immersed himself deeply in magic and Hermetic philosophy, devoting the last third of his life almost exclusively to these pursuits. For Dee, as with many of his contemporaries, these activities were not contradictory, but particular aspects of a consistent world-view.
There is (gentle reader) nothing (the works of God only set apart) which so much beautifies and adorns the soul and mind of man as does knowledge of the good arts and sciences. ... Many ... arts there are which beautify the mind of man; but of all none do more garnish and beautify it than those arts which are called mathematical, unto the knowledge of which no man can attain, without perfect knowledge and instruction of the principles, grounds, and Elements of Geometry.
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