Algebraic Calculation of the Rainbow
serving to unite physics more closely with mathematics
Part of the Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idées / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 108)
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KeywordsAlgebraic Calculation Life Annuity Exterior Angle Great Sine Deze Eeuwe
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In fummo apud illos honore Geometria fuit, itaque nihil Mathematicis illuftrius. At nos metiendi rationandique utilitate hujus artis terminavimus modum.
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- 2.Jan Hudde (1628–1704), one of Spinoza’s correspondents, mayor of Amsterdam 1672–1704. His De Reductione Aequationum (1654) and De Maximis et Minims (1658) were published in F. van Schooten’s Geometria. à Renato Des Cartes (2 vols., Amsterdam, 1659/61), vol. I, pp. 401–516. See J.L. Coolidge, The Mathematics of Great Amateurs (Oxford, 1949), Ch. 10; K. Haas. His De Reductione Aequationum (1654) and De Maximis et Minims (1658) were published in F. van Schooten’s Geometria. à Renato Des Cartes (2 vols., Amsterdam, 1659/61), vol. I, pp. 401–516. See J.L. Coolidge, The Mathematics of Great Amateurs (Oxford, 1949), Ch. 10; K. Haas, ‘Die mathematischen Arbeiten von Johann Hudde’, Centaurus, vol. 4, no. 3 (1956), pp. 235–284.Google Scholar
- 9.The similarity between this passage and the opening paragraphs of Spinoza’s Tractatus Theologico-politicus, Ch. 6, is quite striking. The account of God’s covenant with Noah (Genesis IX:8-17) raised the question of whether there were rainbows before the flood. The Bohemian Jesuit Marcus Marci (1595-1667), in his Thaumantias (Prague, 1648), p. 248 f„ argued that God’s rainbow was the outcome of unique atmospheric conditions, all others being subjective in that they would not exist were there no eyes to see them. Another member of this order, Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680), in his Arca noë (Amsterdam, 1675), pp. 173–178, allowed the existence of antediluvian rainbows, and stated that they only became a sign of the covenant after the flood.Google Scholar
- 21.This reference to the work of René-François de Sluse (1622–1685) on the rainbow is almost certainly and editorial insertion. Since he did not die until 1685, Spinoza could not possibly have referred to him as deceased. The account of his method is taken from Isaac Barrow’s (1630–1677) Lectiones Opticae (2 vols., London, 1669/70), vol. II, sections 14–16. It is possible that in the original text Spinoza made some reference to his work however, since he was corresponding with Huygens on the calculations involved in the geometrical analysis of the rainbow as early as July 1657 (Œuvres II, nos. 397,398), and in 1667 he wrote to Oldenburg on the subject, see The Works of … Boyle (ed. T. Birch, 6 vols., London, 1774), vol. VI, p. 251.Google Scholar
© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht 1985