Date

4-29-2020

Description

Contemporary research on the so-called "quarrel between the 'Ancients' and the 'Moderns'" has traditionally focused on the fields of literature and art in Western Europe during the seventeenth century. New research, such as Benjamin Wardhaugh's scholarship, illuminates the place of mathematics within the quarrel and suggests that the quarrel continued within mathematics into the eighteenth century, in places like England. However, much of the contemporary scholarship focuses on historical books of practical mathematics, without regard for the ancient text upon which nearly all early modern European mathematics was built: Euclid's Elements. This paper focuses on a 1732 edition of Isaac Barrow's English translation of the work, Euclide's Elements, which has not received any historical treatment by present-day scholars despite its popularity throughout the eighteenth century. Using Robert Darton's model for the history of the book to ask questions about the author, editor, booksellers, and readers of the text, I will show how the book built a bridge between ancient and modern modes of thought, and examine the impact these groups had on the transition between ancient and modern mathematics. I will focus on a 1734 owner of the book, Benjamin Parker, whose life has not found its way into present-day scholarship, and analyze his relationship with the various groups mentioned above to determine who composed the primary audience for the book, Ancients or Moderns. Using the methods of both book history and mathematics history, my research widens the field of view on the quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns.

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Apr 29th, 12:00 AM

Between Ancient and Modern: Becoming Literate in Geometry in Early Modern England

Contemporary research on the so-called "quarrel between the 'Ancients' and the 'Moderns'" has traditionally focused on the fields of literature and art in Western Europe during the seventeenth century. New research, such as Benjamin Wardhaugh's scholarship, illuminates the place of mathematics within the quarrel and suggests that the quarrel continued within mathematics into the eighteenth century, in places like England. However, much of the contemporary scholarship focuses on historical books of practical mathematics, without regard for the ancient text upon which nearly all early modern European mathematics was built: Euclid's Elements. This paper focuses on a 1732 edition of Isaac Barrow's English translation of the work, Euclide's Elements, which has not received any historical treatment by present-day scholars despite its popularity throughout the eighteenth century. Using Robert Darton's model for the history of the book to ask questions about the author, editor, booksellers, and readers of the text, I will show how the book built a bridge between ancient and modern modes of thought, and examine the impact these groups had on the transition between ancient and modern mathematics. I will focus on a 1734 owner of the book, Benjamin Parker, whose life has not found its way into present-day scholarship, and analyze his relationship with the various groups mentioned above to determine who composed the primary audience for the book, Ancients or Moderns. Using the methods of both book history and mathematics history, my research widens the field of view on the quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns.