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CATEGORIES:Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of
Science
SUMMARY:Narratives in Greek mathematics? - Markus Asper (N
ew York University)
DTSTART;TZID=Europe/London:20090205T163000
DTEND;TZID=Europe/London:20090205T180000
UID:TALK15887AThttp://talks.cam.ac.uk
URL:http://talks.cam.ac.uk/talk/index/15887
DESCRIPTION:At first glance\, both ancient Greek and modern ma
thematics appear to be narrative-free. Nonetheless
\, there has been recent debate about the relative
merits of looking for narratives in modern mathem
atics (see Senechal 2006). Two aspects of this dis
cussion lend themselves to my project:\n\n(1) How
do narratives about Greek mathematics relate to ma
thematical practices? One finds such narratives in
introductory letters\, anecdotes\, and ancient co
mmentaries. Research on modern mathematics suggest
s that such stories do contribute in certain ways
to the practices that they are about (Traweek 1999
\, Corfield forthcoming). They situate the core te
xts within their social\, dogmatic\, historical\,
ideological\, etc.\, contexts.\n\n(2) Aesthetics o
f narrative and aesthetics of proof: second\, a cl
oser look at the mathematical texts themselves rev
eals that they follow principles of structure and
aesthetics that one also finds in literary narrati
ves (suspense\, surprise\, sequential organization
\, closure\; see Doxiadis 2005). Notions of 'beaut
y' and 'elegance' come up. Especially rewarding wi
ll be a closer look at how Greek mathematical aest
hetics relates to literary aesthetics of the time
(compare Netz forthcoming). Perhaps one could unde
rstand (mathematical) proofs and solutions of prob
lems as specialized stories.\n\nWorks cited\n\n* C
orfield\, M. forthcoming. 'Narrative and the Ratio
nality of Mathematical Practice.' In: B. Mazur and
A. Doxiadis\, eds. _Mathematics and Narrative._ A
thens. Forthcoming in 2008. \n* Doxiadis\, A. 2005
. 'The Mathematical Logic of Narrative.' In: Miran
esi\, M. ed. _Mathematics and Culture in Europe. M
athematics in Art\, Technology\, Cinema and Theatr
e._ Milano\, 167–177. \n* Netz\, R. forthcoming. '
Greek Mathematics and the Hellenistic Aesthetics.'
in M.A. Harder\, G. Regtuit\, and E. Wakker\, eds
. _Science and Nature in Hellenistic Poetry._ Leid
en. Forthcoming in 2008. \n* Senechal\, M. 2006. '
Mathematics and Narrative at Mykonos.' _Mathematic
al Intelligencer_ 28.2: 24–33. \n* Traweek\, Sh. 1
999. 'Pilgrim's Progress. Male Tales Told During a
Life in Physics.' In: Biagioli\, M. ed. _The Scie
nce Studies Reader._ New York\, 525–542.
LOCATION:Seminar Room 2\, History and Philosophy of Science
\, Department of
CONTACT:Lauren Kassell
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