Flicker in the Darkness (Review of Nicole Oresme and the Medieval Geometry of Qualities and Motions (ed. M. Clagett)[University of Wisconsin Press, Madison and London 1968. xiii + 713 pp.]) [1969e]

  • Robert S. Cohen
  • John J. Stachel
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 21)


This volume is the latest instalment of the corpus of mediaeval writing on mathematics and mechanics to the publication of which Professor Clagett, with great competence and unflagging industry, has devoted his department in the University of Wisconsin for many years. It is no mean task to decipher the scribblings of ignorant scribes and transform them into polished critical editions, accompanied by English translations and abundant commentary; it must also be a work of infinite patience to labour through the unspeakably tiresome arrays of pedantic syllogisms into which the schoolmen diluted their primitive arguments. Clagett’s own commentary, although making use of mathematical symbols in-vented to avoid prolixity, is itself so punctilious that it more often than not carries the dilution one step further: in the volume under review, the Oresme text, collated from some fourteen manuscripts, occupies, with its translation, only about one third of the book; the rest consists of an informative introduction, an explanatory commentary, the reproduction and translation of a number of other relevant mediaeval texts, and several detailed indexes. This lavishness — no doubt of great service to the scholar — goes a long way to account for the enormous bulk of the Wisconsin medieval thesaurus.


Mathematical Symbol Heavenly Motion Great Competence Reidel Publishing Company Informative Introduction 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert S. Cohen
  • John J. Stachel

There are no affiliations available

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