Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Philosophy, Science and the Sciences

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Department of Philosophy | Philosophy, Science and the Sciences | Events | Conference: On Mathemata - Commenting on Ancient Greek and Arabic Mathematical Texts

Conference: On Mathemata - Commenting on Ancient Greek and Arabic Mathematical Texts

  • When Nov 17, 2016 08:30 to Nov 18, 2016 06:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC100)
  • Where Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Hannoversche Str. 6, room 1.03
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The corpus of Greek and Arabic mathematical literature is large and heterogeneous, embracing material not only from ‘original’ mathematical treatises, but also from a broad category of texts, usually described as comments or scholia. Although these texts present a high degree of diversity in terms of form (e.g., independent treatises, introductory chapters, marginal notes) and function (e.g., restoring ‘corrupted’ texts, providing auxiliary material such as diagrams and tables, establishing connections with other treatises), they arguably stand out as a literary genre in its own right. Their aim is to explain, ‘improve’, and supplement the works of the ancient mathematicians.

Within this framework, a series of interesting questions emerges: When were these texts composed, in what context, and for which purpose? What kind of information could we extract from them? Can we then offer a corresponding typology/classification? In which ways did they shape contemporaneous mathematical and commenting practices? Which operations were carried out in order to produce them? What constituted a restoration/ ‘purification’ of an ancient mathematical treatise? What do we mean by the term ‘mathematical error’? What are the differences and similarities in the commenting approaches between Greek and Islamic scholars? What kind of methodological tools historians employ today in order to approach these texts? These are only some of the questions that this conference seeks to address.

For more details and the program please go to the conference website.