The role of geometrical construction in Theodosius's Spherics

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Abstract

This paper is a contribution to our understanding of the constructive nature of Greek geometry. By studying the role of constructive processes in Theodoius's Spherics, we uncover a difference in the function of constructions and problems in the deductive framework of Greek mathematics. In particular, we show that geometric problems originated in the practical issues involved in actually making diagrams, whereas constructions are abstractions of these processes that are used to introduce objects not given at the outset, so that their properties can be used in the argument. We conclude by discussing, more generally, ancient Greek interests in the practical methods of producing diagrams.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-609
Number of pages29
JournalArchive for History of Exact Sciences
Volume63
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Oct

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Mathematics (miscellaneous)

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