The Ends and the Means: Trans-Mediterranean Networks of Calculation and the Development of a Legal Theory of Proportion (1215-1315)
April 17, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, UW-Madison
My thesis follows the development of Arabic mathematical theories and techniques of analysis and synthesis, as they were received into Western Europe from 1215 to 1315. I show how scholars used these techniques to make broader metaphysical and epistemological claims about a unity of the sciences. This implied that mathematical knowledge of the natural world should also guide legal theory and the codification of positive law, as exemplified by the first Latin practitioners who appropriated these methods from translations of Arabic texts. The application of mathematics to questions of politics and religion challenged traditional assumptions about the independence and priority of law and theology.
Nicholas Jacobson is a doctoral candidate in the history of science, medicine, and technology program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My research interests focus on the history of the mathematical sciences as they were received in both Arabic and Latin language traditions. He would like to identify the ways in which these scientific texts intersected with religious, legal, and political concerns within the context of the thirteenth century. He also would like to examine the processes that allowed for knowledge to be codified and standardized, and how this knowledge came to circulate over vast areas of Eurasia and North Africa. Nicholas's MA thesis focused on Franciscan and Dominican travel writings from the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries.