The Euclidean Diagram

In Paolo Mancosu (ed.), The Philosophy of Mathematical Practice. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 80--133 (2008)
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This chapter gives a detailed study of diagram-based reasoning in Euclidean plane geometry (Books I, III), as well as an exploration how to characterise a geometric practice. First, an account is given of diagram attribution: basic geometrical claims are classified as exact (equalities, proportionalities) or co-exact (containments, contiguities); exact claims may only be inferred from prior entries in the demonstration text, but co-exact claims may be asserted based on what is seen in the diagram. Diagram control by constructions is necessary for this to work. Case-branching occurs when a construction renders a diagram un-representative. The roles of diagrams in reductio arguments, and of objection in probing a demonstration, are discussed.



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Kenneth Manders
University of Pittsburgh

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