The transformation of mathematics from ancient Greece to the medieval Arab-speaking world is here approached by focusing on a single problem proposed by Archimedes and the many solutions offered. In this trajectory Reviel Netz follows the change in the task from solving a geometrical problem to its expression as an equation, still formulated geometrically, and then on to an algebraic problem, now handled by procedures that are more like rules of manipulation. From a practice of mathematics based on the localized (...) solution we see a transition to a practice of mathematics based on the systematic approach. With three chapters ranging chronologically from Hellenistic mathematics, through late Antiquity, to the medieval world, Reviel Netz offers an alternate interpretation of the historical journey of pre-modern mathematics. (shrink)
This book represents a new departure in science studies: an analysis of a scientific style of writing, situating it within the context of the contemporary style of literature. Its philosophical significance is that it provides a novel way of making sense of the notion of a scientific style. For the first time, the Hellenistic mathematical corpus - one of the most substantial extant for the period - is placed centre-stage in the discussion of Hellenistic culture as a whole. Professor Netz (...) argues that Hellenistic mathematical writings adopt a narrative strategy based on surprise, a compositional form based on a mosaic of apparently unrelated elements, and a carnivalesque profusion of detail. He further investigates how such stylistic preferences derive from, and throw light on, the style of Hellenistic poetry. This important book will be welcomed by all scholars of Hellenistic civilization as well as historians of ancient science and Western mathematics. (shrink)
Ancient Greek mathematics developed the original feature of being deductive mathematics. This article attempts to give a explanation f or this achievement. The focus is on the use of a fixed system of linguistic formulae in Greek mathematical texts. It is shown that the structure of this system was especially adapted for the easy computation of operations of substitution on such formulae, that is, of replacing one element in a fixed formula by another, and it is further argued that such (...) operations of substitution were the main logical tool required by Greek mathematical deduction. The conclusion explains why, assuming the validity of the description above, this historical level is the best explanatory level for the phenomenon of Greek mathematical deduction. (shrink)
The ancient Greeks played a fundamental role in the history of mathematics and their ideas were reused and developed in subsequent periods all the way down to the scientific revolution and beyond. In this, the first complete history for a century. Reviel Netz offers a panoramic view of the rise and influence of Greek mathematics and its significance in world history. He explores the Near Eastern antecedents and the social and intellectual developments underlying the subject's beginnings in Greece in the (...) fifth century BCE. He leads the reader through the proofs and arguments of key figures like Archytas, Euclid and Archimedes, and considers the totality of the Greek mathematical achievement which also includes, in addition to pure mathematics, such applied fields as optics, music, mechanics and, above all, astronomy. This is the story not only of a major historical development, but of some of the finest mathematics ever created. (shrink)
ZusammenfassungDer Artikel stellt die Methodik zur Erforschung einer „Bibliosphäre“ vor, also der Gesamtheit der literarischen Dokumente einer bestimmten Kultur. In diesem Fall geht es um die Bibliosphäre der Antike, und hierbei insbesondere um deren wissenschaftlich-philosophischen Bereich. Es wird die Auffassung vertreten, dass wir die Inhalte von Werken durch ihre Position in der Bibliosphäre begreifen können. Der Gegensatz zwischen Mathematik und Literatur wird detailliert dargestellt und der Übergangscharakter der Medizin hervorgehoben.
Greek culture matters because its unique pluralistic debate shaped modern discourses. This ground-breaking book explains this feature by retelling the history of ancient literary culture through the lenses of canon, space and scale. It proceeds from the invention of the performative 'author' in the archaic symposium through the 'polis of letters' enabled by Athenian democracy and into the Hellenistic era, where one's space mattered and culture became bifurcated between Athens and Alexandria. This duality was reconfigured into an eclectic variety consumed (...) by Roman patrons and predicated on scale, with about a thousand authors active at any given moment. As patronage dried up in the third century CE, scale collapsed and literary culture was reduced to the teaching of a narrower field of authors, paving the way for the Middle Ages. The result is a new history of ancient culture which is sociological, quantitative, and all-encompassing, cutting through eras and genres. (shrink)
Archimedes was the greatest scientist of antiquity and one of the greatest of all time. This book is Volume I of the first authoritative translation of his works into English. It is also the first publication of a major ancient Greek mathematician to include a critical edition of the diagrams and the first translation into English of Eutocius' ancient commentary on Archimedes. Furthermore, it is the first work to offer recent evidence based on the Archimedes Palimpsest, the major source for (...) Archimedes, lost between 1915 and 1998. A commentary on the translated text studies the cognitive practice assumed in writing and reading the work, and it is Reviel Netz's aim to recover the original function of the text as an act of communication. Particular attention is paid to the aesthetic dimension of Archimedes' writings. Taken as a whole, the commentary offers a groundbreaking approach to the study of mathematical texts. (shrink)
There are a number of ways in which Greek mathematics can be seen to be radically original. First, at the level of mathematical contents: many objects and results were first discovered by Greek mathematicians. Second, Greek mathematics was original at the level of logical form: it is arguable that no form of mathematics was ever axiomatic independently of the influence of Greek mathematics. Finally, third, Greek mathematics was original at the level of form, of presentation: Greek mathematics is written in (...) its own specific, original style. This style may vary from author to author, as well as within the works of a single author, but it is still always recognizable as the Greek mathematical style. This style is characterized by the use of the lettered diagram, a specific technical terminology, and a system of short phrases. I believe this third aspect of the originality—the style—was responsible, indirectly, for the two other aspects of the originality. The style was a tool, with which Greek mathematicians were able to produce results of a given kind, and to produce them in a special, compelling way. This tool, I claim, emerged organically, and reflected the communication-situation in which Greek mathematics was conducted. For all this I have argued elsewhere. (shrink)