Angela Axworthy


Max Planck Institute for the History of Science Berlin

The epistemological and ontological background of the debate on superposition between Jacques Peletier du Mans (1517-1582) and Christophorus Clavius (1538-1612)

The general aim of my paper is to present the conditions and limits of the admission of motion in geometry in the commentaries on Euclid’s Elements of Jacques Peletier du Mans and Christophorus Clavius by considering the debate which arose between them regarding the validity of superposition as a method to demonstrate the congruence of figures. The starting point of this debate was Peletier’s rejection of superposition in his commentary of Prop. I.4 of the Elements in 1557. In this context, Peletier rejected superposition as too mechanical and as improper to convey the dignity of geometry.