The Mathematics of Platos Academy: A New Reconstruction

Hardcover | December 1, 1998

byDavid Fowler

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This is an updated edition of an original and controversial book. As well as revising parts of the text and substantially updating the bibliography, in a new Appendix the author takes a more polemical stance and enters into a discussion of the nature and range of different interpretations.The book is divided into three parts; Interpretation, Evidence, and Later developments. The first part presents several new interpretations of the idea of ratio in early Greek mathematics and illustrates them in detailed discussions of several texts. Part Two focuses on the sources themselves, andquestions the depth of modern knowledge of Plato's Academy during his lifetime, the source of our text of Euclid's Elements, and modern understanding of early Greek mathematics. The final part contrasts some of the evidence from early and late antiquity and then gives a historical account, since theseventeeth century, of the theory of continued fractions, our version today of the mathematics underlying the reconstruction. From reviews of the first edition: '...a real treat.' Greece and Rome '...cites an impressive array of evidence...The result should be widely read by classicists andmathematicians as well as historians of mathematics.' ISIS '...he enters into classical scholarship here with a really 'new reconstruction' of early Greek mathematics.' Nature '...this fascinating book...will arouse the interest and command the admiration of any historically minded lover ofmathematics with a taste for the unorthodox.' Institute of Mathematics and its Applications 'This book, speculative in the best sense, engages the ancient material on its own terms in setting forth what the Greeks might have thought and done...While the book represents an important departure inhistorical research in its reaching beyond the spare formalism of surviving materials to an understanding of motivation and perception, its careful documentations and technical descriptions make it valuable in a more traditional way.' Zentralblatt fur Mathematik

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From the Publisher

This is an updated edition of an original and controversial book. As well as revising parts of the text and substantially updating the bibliography, in a new Appendix the author takes a more polemical stance and enters into a discussion of the nature and range of different interpretations.The book is divided into three parts; Interpret...

David H. Fowler is at Mathematics Institute, University of Warwick.

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Format:HardcoverPublished:December 1, 1998Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198502583

ISBN - 13:9780198502586

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Table of Contents

Part One: Interpretations1. The proposal2. Anthyphairetic ratio theory3. Elements II: The dimension of squares4. Plato's mathematics curriculum in Republic VII5. Elements IV, X, and XII: The circumdiameter and sidePart Two: Evidence6. The nature of our evidence7. Numbers and fractionsPart Three: Later Developments8. The received interpretation9. Continued fractions10. New material added to the second edition:11. Appendix (A new introduction; Ratio as on evidence class; The method of gnomons and Theatetas 147-158; Elements;...but why is there no evidence for these ratio theories?)12. Epilogue: a brief intellectual autobiography

Editorial Reviews

`The Mathematics of Plato's Academy is an updated second edition of a well-known book devoted to early Greek mathematics.'EMS