Historia Mathematica 41 (3):261-276 (2014)

Authors
Jacqueline Feke
University of Waterloo
Abstract
Bringing the meta-mathematics of Hero of Alexandria and Claudius Ptolemy into conversation for the first time, I argue that they employ identical rhetorical strategies in the introductions to Hero’s Belopoeica, Pneumatica, Metrica and Ptolemy’s Almagest. They each adopt a paradigmatic argument, in which they criticize the discourses of philosophers and declare epistemological supremacy for mathematics by asserting that geometrical demonstration is indisputable. The rarity of this claim—in conjunction with the paradigmatic argument—indicates that Hero and Ptolemy participated in a single meta-mathematical tradition, which made available to them rhetoric designed to introduce, justify, and bolster the value of mathematics.
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