Geometry in Context in the Sixteenth Century: the View From the Museum

in Early Science and Medicine
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Abstract

This paper examines the discrepancy between the attitudes of many historians of mathematics to sixteenth-century geometry and those of museum curators and others interested in practical mathematics and in instruments. It argues for the need to treat past mathematical practice, not in relation to timeless criteria of mathematical worth, but according to the agenda of the period. Three examples of geometrical activity (cartography, surveying and warfare) are used to illustrate this, and two particular contexts (the wider world of human affairs and the discipline of natural philosophy) are presented in which mathematical practice localised in the sixteenth century takes on a special historical significance.

Geometry in Context in the Sixteenth Century: the View From the Museum

in Early Science and Medicine

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