Commentaries on Mathematical Texts in a Comparative Perspective

Commentaries on Mathematical Texts in a Comparative Perspective

Lorraine Daston, Glenn W. Most, Karine Chemla, Mark Geller

dept2_mosaic.jpg

Planche I. "Mosaïque des philosophes" (Naples, Musée National, inv. n°124545) d’après B. Andreae, Antike Bildmosaiken, Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Mainz am Rhein, 2003, p. 248.

Commentaries from many cultures and scholarly fields have been edited and studied increasingly over the past years, from a variety of perspectives, above all for their explicit and implicit exegetical methodologies and for the light they can cast upon the texts they comment upon. In this interdisciplinary collaborative project, we would like to try the experiment of examining commentaries from a slightly different perspective, that of the teaching and research ends for which they serve as means, within the educational institutional contexts within which they were produced, transmitted, and used. Our hope is that by focusing upon commentaries in an important scientific scholarly field, the mathematical sciences (conceived broadly) but by expanding the traditions examined to include Mesopotamian, ancient Greek, Chinese, and those of the Indian subcontinent, we will be able to create useful dialogue among specialists of comparable expertise and understand better which forms of commentary are widespread (and why), and which ones are more locally limited. The workshop at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science from 1 to 15 August 2017 follows a preliminary workshop held there from 25 to 27 August 2016 and is directed towards work on a collaborative volume on the issues involved.