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"Abraham, Planter of Mathematics"

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Author Topic: "Abraham, Planter of Mathematics"  (Read 460 times)
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« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2008, 10:46:31 pm »


I would like to thank Lauren Kassell, Robert Goulding, James Byrne, Darrel Rutkin, Amy Haley, Anthony Grafton, Simon Schaffer, and Walter Stephens for their invaluable comments, suggestions and improvements. The paper was given in a slightly different form from the 2004 History of Science Society Meeting version at the 2004 Thomas Harriot Seminar, and I thank the participants of both for useful questions and suggestions.

1. Francis Bacon, The tvvoo bookes of Francis Bacon. Of the proficience and aduancement of learning, diuine and humane (London, 1605), Aa.1.r-Aa.4.v. The history of science literature on Bacon is immense. In this context see Paolo Rossi, Francis Bacon: From Magic to Science, trans. Sasha Rabinovitch (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968); and Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann, Topica universalis: eine Modellgeschichte humanistischer und barocker Wissenschaft (Hamburg: Meiner, 1983), 21225.

2. Bacon, Bb.3.v.

3. There are few studies devoted to the histories early modern scholars composed for various sciences. By far the most important is Nicholas Jardine's Birth of History and Philosophy of Science: Kepler's A Defence of Tycho against Ursus, with Essays on its Provenance and Significance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984). Jardine focuses on Kepler, who was more central to the Scientific Revolution than any of the individuals in this article. Kepler's history was distinct in its discussion of, and commitment to, a history of technical advancement. But to attribute the origins of the history of science to his work, as Jardine does, requires an understanding of the discipline as fundamentally committed to a progressive narrative. See also Peter Dear, Discipline and Experience: The Mathematical Way in the Scientific Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 93123; Anthony Grafton, "From Apotheosis to Analysis: Some Late Renaissance Histories of Classical Astronomy," in History and the Disciplines: The Reclassification of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe, ed. Donald R. Kelley (Rochester, N.Y.: University of Rochester Press, 1997), 26176. D.P. Walker's, The Ancient Theology: Studies in Christian Platonism from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century (London: Duckworth, 1972) is the classic work on the power of genealogies of knowledge in early modern Europe.

4. For classical and late antique attitudes towards the disciplines under consideration here, see esp. Fritz Graf, Magic in the Ancient World, trans. Franklin Philip (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997), esp. 2060. See also Jan N. Bremmer, "The Birth of the Term 'Magic'" in The Metamorphosis of Magic from Late Antiquity to the Early Modern Period, ed. Jan N. Bremmer and Jan R. Veenstra (Leuven: Peeters, 2002) 111 and Peter Brown, The Making of Late Antiquity (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978), 1926.

5. The classic studies of this context are Paola Zambelli (ed.), "Astrologi hallucinati": Stars and the End of the World in Luther's Time (Berlin: W. de Gruyter, 1986); and Ottavia Niccoli, Prophecy and People in Renaissance Italy, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990).

6. See S.A. Farmer, Syncretism in the West: Pico's 900 theses (1486): The Evolution of Traditional, Religious, and Philosophical Systems: with Text, Translation, and Commentary (Phoenix: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1998).

7. Pico della Mirandola, Opera Omnia (Basel, 1601), 80: "Proposuimus & magica theoremata, in quibus duplicem esse Magiam significamus, quarum altera daemonum tota opere & authoritate constat, res medius fidius execranda & portentosa: altera nihil est aliud, cum bene exploratur, quam naturalis philosophiae absoluta consummatio." Recent work on Pico includes H. Darrel Rutkin, Astrology, Natural Philosophy and the History of Science, c. 12501700: Studies toward an Interpretation of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola's Disputationes adversus Astrologiam Divinatricem (Ph.D. Dissertation, Indiana University, 2002), esp. 230467, with considered discussion of the various traditions of Pico scholarship; and Steven Vanden Broecke, The Limits of Influence: Pico, Louvain, and the Crisis of Renaissance Astrology (Leiden: Brill, 2003), 5581.

8. Pico, 113. "Tota magia, quae in usu est apud modernos, & quam merito exterminat Ecclesia, nullam habet firmitatem, nullam veritatem, nullum firmamentum: quia pendet ex manu hostium primae veritatis, potestatum harum tenebrarum, quae tenebras falsitatis malae dispositis intellectibus offendunt."

9. See Anthony Grafton, Commerce with the Classics: Ancient Books and Renaissance Readers (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997), 93134; and Rutkin, 33843.

10. Pico, 483. 
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