The origin of geometry


Speaking of the origin of geometry in the present world cycle, Aristotle tells us that the same ideas have repeatedly come to men at various periods of the universe (universe is here refere at the men’s universe or culture or world).

It is not, he goes on to say, in our time or in the time of those known to us that the sciences have first arisen, but they have appeared and again disappeared, and will continue to appear and to disappear, in various cycles, of which the number both past and future is countless.

But since we must speak of the origin of the arts and sciences with reference to the present world cycle, it was, we say, among the Egyptians that geometry is generally held to have been discovered. It owed its discovery to the practice of land measurement.

For the Egyptians had to perform such measurements because the overflow of the Nile would cause the boundary of each person’s land to disappear.

Yet, it should occasion no surprise that the discovery both of this science and of the other sciences proceeded from utility, since everything that is in the process of becoming advances from the imperfect to the perfect.

The progress, then, from sense perception to reason and from reason to understanding is a natural one.

And so, just as the accurate knowledge of numbers originated with the Phoenicians through their commerce and their business transactions, so geometry was discovered by the Egyptians for the reason we have indicated.

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