Person: Caraça, Bento
Bento Caraça was a Portuguese mathematician who was very active in supporting mathematics and also organisations which supported democracy against Salazar's authoritarian government. He wrote the interesting book Fundamental Concepts of Mathematics _and was one of the founders of the journal _Gazeta de Matemática.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- The priest suggested "Bento de Jesus", meaning "blessing from Jesus" and that became his name.
- Bento spent the first five years of his life at Herdade da Casa Branca.
- He was given seasonal work on the Casa Branca estate and Bento quickly saw that Percheiro was different from the other workers.
- Soon Percheiro moved on to work elsewhere but he left Bento the book Cartilha Maternal ou Arte de Leitura Ⓣ(Maternal primer or the Art of reading) by Joao de Deus.
- Bento completed his primary schooling at the Vila Viçosa primary school in 1911 and then enrolled in the Sá da Bandeira High School, in Santarém.
- This school, founded in 1906, had moved into new buildings on Avenida Álvares Cabral, in front of the Jardim da Estrela, in 1911, two years before Caraça began studying there.
- So, at eighteen, Caraça began his dazzling university career.
- Throughout his student years, Caraça offered private tutoring to help fund his studies.
- Caraça was a member of its Administrative Council from the time it was founded.
- This engagement in social issues is explained by his active participation in the foundation of the Universidade Popular Portuguesa, an entity linked to the communist party that played an important role in Portuguese culture in the first half of the 20th century and which Bento de Jesus came to be become president from 1928.
- Caraça would later join this party in his fight against Fascism.
- Caraça graduated with distinction from the Instituto Superior do Comércio in 1923 with a licentiate in Economics and Financial Sciences.
- They had met when Caraça was a pupil at the Liceu Pedro Nunes and was taught by Adolfo Sena.
- In December 1927, Caraça was promoted to extraordinary professor of Higher Mathematics and two years later, on 28 December 1929, to full professor of Higher Mathematics at the Instituto Superior do Comércio.
- But Professor Bento de Jesus Caraça knew how to teach students to love mathematics, to understand its importance as an instrument for a quick understanding and intervention in life's problems.
- Caraça was personally involved in reactions to the 1926 coup d'état, since there were academic strikes at the Instituto Superior de Comércio and at other educational institutions.
- On 22 March 1931, Caraça delivered the lecture The Popular Universities and Culture at the Universidade Popular de Setúbal.
- On 25 May 1933 Caraça delivered the lecture A Cultura Integral do Indivíduo Ⓣ(The integral culture of the individual) at the União Cultural Mocidade Livre.
- Despite its problems, the Centre's public activities began on 16 November 1936 with a course in Vector Calculus, delivered by Caraça.
- It was this course that Caraça published as the book we mentioned above.
- Members of the Centre seem to have had certain disagreements during 1937 and 1939 which came to a head when a second course by Caraça was announced in November 1939, requested by certain members without the knowledge of others.
- In 1938 Caraça was one of three founders of the 'Centre for Studies in Mathematics Applied to Economics'.
- We see clearly how Caraça found his views very similar to those of Tagore.
- Tagore was not the only one of Caraça's heroes that he delivered a lecture on, others included 'Galileo Galilei, the scientific and moral value of his work' (in 1933), and 'Leonardo da Vinci' (in 1943).
- Also in 1940, Caraça created and led the Pedagogical Commission of the Portuguese Mathematical Society and he was elected president of the Society for the session 1943-44.
- They had one son, Joao Manuel Gaspar Caraça, who was born on 22 August 1945.
- Joao Caraça obtained a degree in electrical engineering from the Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon, then a Ph.D. in nuclear physics from the University of Oxford for his thesis Electromagnetic properties of light proton-rich nuclei.
- Publication of an open letter by Caraça in the República led to a reply in the newspaper by Salazar.
- Caraça continued to challenge the government.
- When Portugal applied to join the United Nations, Caraça was one of the signatories on a document produced by the Democratic Unity Movement calling for Portugal to be refused entry until democracy was restored in the country.
- Portugal was refused entry to the UN in September 1946 and disciplinary proceedings were instituted against Caraça by the Minister of Education for "serious defamation of members of the Government".
- Caraça received honours many years after his death.
- Another honour was the issue of a postage stamp for Caraça by Portugal in 2001.
- We should note that there has been much interest in Caraça and his ideas in recent years.
Born 18 April 1901, Vila Viçosa, Portugal. Died 25 June 1948, Lisbon, Portugal.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive