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Wrong for the Right Reasons“In Order That We Should Not Ourselves Appear to Be Adjusting Our Estimates … to Make Them Fit Some Predetermined Amount”

Wrong for the Right Reasons: “In Order That We Should Not Ourselves Appear to Be Adjusting Our... ALEXANDER JONES “IN ORDER THATWE SHOULD NOT OURSELVESAPPEAR TO BE ADJUSTING OUR ESTIMATES . ..TO MAKE THEM FIT SOME PREDETERMINED AMOUNT” Suspicions that something is not quite right about Ptolemy can be traced back to thethird century A.D., withina few decades ofhis lifetime. The astrologers, though happy enough to use his astronomical tables, were not convincedbyhisobservational demonstrations of the theory of precession, and so they introduced a systematic correction of all computed positions of the heavenly bodies and cardinal points. An early commentator or critic, Artemidorus, insinuated that Ptolemy’s armillary sphere was too small to justify some of his innovations in lunar theory, and also accused himofinconsistency in his use of uncorrected and corrected mean motions. Porphyry alleges that muchin Ptolemy’s Harmonics was taken over from thewritingsof his predecessors (a practice that Porphyry regards as unavoidable), but without due credit (which evidently troubles Porphyry). What is most interestingis not that regarding at least two of these specific charges Ptolemy knew better than the cavillers, but that the initial reception of his scientific work was not wholly uncritical. We would never have guessed this from the respectful,voluminous, anddull commentaries of the fourth century and after. In modern times, discussions of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png

Wrong for the Right Reasons“In Order That We Should Not Ourselves Appear to Be Adjusting Our Estimates … to Make Them Fit Some Predetermined Amount”

Part of the Archimedes Book Series (volume 11)
Editors: Buchwald, Jed Z.; Franklin, Allan
Wrong for the Right Reasons — Jan 1, 2005

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References (21)

Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright
© Springer 2005
ISBN
978-1-4020-3047-5
Pages
17 –39
DOI
10.1007/1-4020-3048-7_2
Publisher site
See Chapter on Publisher Site

Abstract

ALEXANDER JONES “IN ORDER THATWE SHOULD NOT OURSELVESAPPEAR TO BE ADJUSTING OUR ESTIMATES . ..TO MAKE THEM FIT SOME PREDETERMINED AMOUNT” Suspicions that something is not quite right about Ptolemy can be traced back to thethird century A.D., withina few decades ofhis lifetime. The astrologers, though happy enough to use his astronomical tables, were not convincedbyhisobservational demonstrations of the theory of precession, and so they introduced a systematic correction of all computed positions of the heavenly bodies and cardinal points. An early commentator or critic, Artemidorus, insinuated that Ptolemy’s armillary sphere was too small to justify some of his innovations in lunar theory, and also accused himofinconsistency in his use of uncorrected and corrected mean motions. Porphyry alleges that muchin Ptolemy’s Harmonics was taken over from thewritingsof his predecessors (a practice that Porphyry regards as unavoidable), but without due credit (which evidently troubles Porphyry). What is most interestingis not that regarding at least two of these specific charges Ptolemy knew better than the cavillers, but that the initial reception of his scientific work was not wholly uncritical. We would never have guessed this from the respectful,voluminous, anddull commentaries of the fourth century and after. In modern times, discussions of

Published: Jan 1, 2005

Keywords: Summer Solstice; Vernal Equinox; Great Elongation; Lunar Theory; Autumnal Equinox

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