Olaf Pedersen's A Survey of the Almagest: With Annotation and New Commentary PDF

By Olaf Pedersen

ISBN-10: 0387848258

ISBN-13: 9780387848259

The Almagest, by means of the Greek astronomer and mathematician Ptolemy, is an important surviving treatise on early mathematical astronomy, supplying historians worthy perception into the astronomy and arithmetic of the traditional world.

Pedersen's 1974 ebook, A Survey of the Almagest, is the newest in a protracted culture of partners to the Almagest. half paraphrase and half statement, Pedersen's paintings has earned the common compliment of historians and serves because the definitive introductory textual content for college kids attracted to learning the Almagest.

during this revised version, Alexander Jones, a exclusive authority at the heritage of early astronomy, presents supplementary details and statement to the unique textual content to account for scholarship that has seemed considering the fact that 1974. This revision additionally accommodates numerous corrections to Pedersen's unique textual content which were pointed out considering its publication.

This quantity is meant to supply scholars of the heritage of astronomy with a self-contained advent to the Almagest, assisting them to appreciate and enjoy Ptolemy's nice and classical paintings.

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Extra resources for A Survey of the Almagest: With Annotation and New Commentary by Alexander Jones (Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences)

Example text

In other words, the value of any additive group of symbols depends on the position of the group in the series of 'places' by which the whole number is structured. g. 1 · 603 + 24 · 602 + 51 · 60 + 10 1 · 60 + 24 + 51 · 60-1 + 10 · 60- 2 or Of, in general, 1 · 60 n + 24 · 60 n - 1 + 51 · 60 n -- 2 + 10· 60 n - 1 In Babylonian mathematics the value of the integer n would appear from the context only. To avoid ambiguities in what follows we shall adopt the following convention introduced by O. Neugebauer: the integer pa:r;t of the whole number is separated from the fractional part by a semicolon; other sexagesimal places are separated by commas.

At this point there arises a difficulty: How could Ptolemy become an astronomer if only mathematics was able to satisfy his longing for eternal truth? This question seems to be connected with an apparent ambiguity in Aristotle's opinion on where astronomy should be placed in the hierarchy of knowledge. In the Physics (ii, 2, 194 a) he calls astronomy rather physical than mathematical and compares it with optics and 29 harlnonics (Le. the theory of music). But in the Metaphysics (xii, 8, 1073 b) astronomy appears as one o/the mathematical sciences nearest to philosophy.

This does not agree with everyday experience. Ptolemy is aware, too, that thrown or flying bodies could be, as it were, united with the air. In that case they would not be overtaken by the Earth but would remain at the same place forever, contrary to what we observe in projectiles and birds. It has to be admitted that this is a very weak argument, indicating that Ptolemy has not gone deeply into the Aristotelian doctrine of violent motion. 7) That Ptolemy is on the move away from a purely Aristotelian doctrine is seen also from his (now lost) treatise On the balance.

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A Survey of the Almagest: With Annotation and New Commentary by Alexander Jones (Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences) by Olaf Pedersen


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