Two Geometrical Examples From Aristotle's Metaphysics

Classical Quarterly 34 (02):359- (1984)

Henry R. Mendell
California State University, Los Angeles
The discussion of mathematical knowledge and its relation to the construction of an appropriate diagram in Aristotle's Metaphysics Θ 9. 1051 a21—33 is an important, if compressed, account of Aristotle's most mature thoughts on mathematical knowledge. The discussion of what sort of previous knowledge one must have for understanding a theorem recalls the discussion at An. Post. A 1. 71 a 17–21, where the epistemological point is similar and the examples the same. The first example, that the interior angles of a triangle equal two right angles, appears no less than thirty times in the corpus . The example of the angle inscribed in a semicircle being a right angle also occurs at An. Post. B 11. 94a 27–34, but in a very different context from its two companions. Illustrations of both theorems provided clear stock examples for Aristotle
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DOI 10.1017/S0009838800030998
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