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Thinking and Learning from Diagrams in the Aristotelian Mechanics

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This paper examines the diagrams in the Greek manuscripts of the Aristotelian Mechanics. I argue that the diagrams are significant for a reconstruction of the authentic text as many readings can be recovered by means of the diagrams. Furthermore, critical assessment of the diagrams contributes to our understanding of the mechanical principles described in the text. A comparison between the diagrams in the Greek manuscripts and the ones contained in the Latin translation of the Mechanics by Niccolò Leonico Tomeo shows altered diagrammatic practices in the Renaissance. A study of the diagrams from the Renaissance further plays an important role in understanding the processes of transmission and transformation of mechanical knowledge.

Affiliations: 1: Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, Germany


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