Monday, March 28, 2011

Clulee on Dee's Euclid -- Proclus influence

15. Clulee studies in detail the main three surviving works of Dee related to natural philosophy and mathematics. These are the Propaedeumata aphoristica, whose presentation by Shumaker and Heilbron was discussed above; the Monas heiroglyphica, a baffling piece evidently related to alchemy and a proposed project for recovering the original language of God (cf.. the book of Genesis) of which the languages of people are corrupt descendants; and the Mathematicall Praeface which appeared as a preface to a translation of Euclid's Elements attributed to Henry Billingsley, which, as Clulee shows in his Chapter 6 owes much to the commentary of Proclus on Euclid's Elements which dates from the 5th century A.D. Passages from the Mathematicall Praeface have often been cited, here and there, as showing that Dee was an early advocate of the emphasis on experiment which many (often enough influenced directly or indirectly by the late 16th and early 17th century jurist, and publicist and theorist about science, Francis Bacon) think was characteristic of what they take to be a Scientific Revolution in the later 16th and 17th centuries. These latter two works are not much concerned with astrology, as is the case with the Propaedeumata, and since my concern here is with history of astrology, won't be discussed here. They are, however, major documents for anyone who wants to study Dee's beliefs about magic.

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