Jan

13

2025

When:
Monday, January 13, 2025

4:30 PM - 6:00 PM CT

Where: University Hall, Hagstrum 201, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: FREE

Contact:
Janet Hundrieser
(847) 491-3525

Group: Science in Human Culture Program - Klopsteg Lecture Series

Category: Lectures & Meetings

**Speaker**

Nick Winters, Classics, Northwestern University

**Title**

"Rival Arithmetics of Ancient Greece"

**Abstract**

The origin of European theoretical mathematics is usually placed by historians in Ancient Greece. While this attribution irresponsibly (and harmfully) minimizes the intervening and more substantive contributions of, for example, the Islamic Middle Ages, it also ignores the irregularity of Greek mathematics itself. In fact, only one of the Greek mathematical traditions gained a foothold in the practices of modern Europe, and that was for reasons more social than mathematical. In this lecture, I will survey the evidence for four different styles of arithmetical theory, which coexisted in Greece between the 4th century BCE and the 3rd century CE. I will show how rival philosophical loyalties and an agonistic intellectual culture informed the vocabularies, methods, and stylistic conventions of these arithmetics, and I will briefly explain how one of them came to be adopted by the European Renaissance, while the others faded to near obscurity. In the process, we will see samples of Euclidean geometry, Babylonian astronomy, Pythagorean mysticism, early concepts of infinity and very large numbers, commercial and pedagogical counting systems, and mathematical poetry.

**Biography**

Nick Winters (PhD Duke University) is a classicist and former physicist specializing in ancient mathematics and science. His dissertation, "Schools of Greek Mathematical Practice" (2020), proposed a major revision to the history of Greek mathematics, organizing ancient texts into networks of information transmission and methodology. He spent 2022-23 as a fellow at the American School of Classical Studies st Athens.