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The History of the History of Mathematics

Case Studies for the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Benjamin Wardhaugh

The writing of mathematical histories has a long history, one which has seldom received scholarly attention. Mathematical history, and mathematical biography, raise distinctive issues of method and approach to which different periods have responded in different ways. At a time of increasing interest in the history of mathematics, this book attempts to show something of the trajectory that history has taken in the past. It presents seven case studies illustrating the different ways that mathematical histories have been written since the seventeenth century, ranging from the ‘historia’ of John Wallis to the recent re-presentation of Thomas Harriot’s manuscripts online. It considers both the ways that individual reputations and biographies have been shaped differently in different circumstances, and the ways that the discipline of mathematics has itself been variously presented through the writing of its history.


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Notes on Contributors 181


Notes on Contributors Philip Beeley is a fellow of Linacre College, Oxford, and joint editor (with Christoph J. Scriba) of the Correspondence of John Wallis. He has previously taught history of science and philosophy at the Technische Universität Berlin and the University of Hamburg, and was editor of the Academy Edition of Leibniz at the University of Münster. He is currently producing an edition of Wallis’s Treatise of Logic and a volume of essays entitled Mathesis metaphysica quadam. Interrelations between mathematics and metaphysics in Leibniz. Niccolò Guicciardini teaches history of science at the University of Bergamo. He is the author of The Development of Newtonian Calculus in Britain, 1700–1800 (CUP, 1989), Reading the Principia: the debate on Newton’s mathematical methods for natural philosophy from 1687 to 1736 (CUP 1999), and Isaac Newton on Mathematical Certainty and Method (MIT 2009). He is co-Editor of Historia Mathematica. Rebekah Higgitt has been Curator of History of Science and Technology at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and National Maritime Museum since 2008. She did her PhD at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at Imperial College London and was a postdoc- toral researcher at the Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh. She is the author of Recreating Newton: Newtonian Biography and the Making of Nineteenth­Century History of Science (Pickering Chatto, 2007). Adrian Rice is Professor of Mathematics at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, where his research focuses on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British mathematics. He is a...

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