Practitioners – School ‘Mathematicians’: The Divisions of Pre-Modern Mathematics and Its Actors

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The paper starts by looking at how ‘practical’ and ‘theoretical’ mathematics and their relation
have been understood from the Greeks to Christian Wolff and by historians of mathematics
from Montucla to recent days. Drawing on earlier work of mine, and on the giants
on whose shoulders I (try to) stand, I then suggest a categorization of the mathematical knowledge types a historian has to deal with: the ‘sub-scientific’ type, carried by practitioners taught in an apprenticeship network; the ‘scholasticized’ type, taught supposedly for practice but in a ‘scribal’ school by masters whose own genuine practice is that of teaching; and the ‘scientific’ or theory-oriented type. In the end, the utility of this categorization is tried out on two specific cases.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies on the Ancient Exact Sciences in Honour of Lis Brack-Bernsen
EditorsJohn M. Steele, Mathieu Ossendrijver
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherEdition Topoi
Publication date2017
ISBN (Print)978-3-9816384-5-5
Publication statusPublished - 2017
SeriesTopoi - Berlin Studies of the Ancient World

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