Reviel Netz

Although Netz’s main field is the history of pre-modern mathematics, I believe that his research has much to say to science (and math) educators when it comes to their sustained interest in all things cognitive. His research also has much to say to education researchers who wish to study cognition, whether the cognition of scientists or science students. Netz is no psychologist or cognitive scientist, however: He is a cognitive historian. In his skilled hands, cognition escapes the confines of the mind and is extended to a cast of other allies such as visual diagrams and written language. Bruno Latour once told the loosely-knit science studiescommunity that Netz is “…one of us, and one of our best.” That’s high praise if you ask me.

Cognitive history lies at the intersection of history of science and the cognitive sciences. Like the history of science, it studies a cultural artefact. Like the cognitive sciences, it approaches knowledge not through its specific propositional contents but through its forms and practices.

– REVIEL NETZ, The Shaping of Deductive in Greek Mathematics (1999)

The Netz texts that I visit most often include, The Shaping of Deduction in Greek Mathematics: A Study in Cognitive History (1999), The Transformation of Early Mediterranean Mathematics: From Problems to Equations (2004), and Ludic Proof: Greek Mathematics and the Alexandrian Aesthetic (2009). For pure enjoyment and adventure, however, I often turn to Netz’s Barbed Wire: An Ecology of Modernity (2009) and to a book to which he contributed, The Archimedes Codex: How a Medieval Prayer Book Is Revealing the True Genius of Antiquity’s Greatest Scientist (2007).

Place of Work | Stanford University
Title | Professor of Classics & Philosophy
University Webpage |