Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Buddy System

Anyone want to work on Euclid with me? It always helps to have a partner or a little group.

The edition I'm using is the Dover reprint of Thomas Heath's 1925 translation of the earlier work of Heiberg, 1888. Three volumes, kindly sent along by an O's P. regular reader.

There appear to be various online study guides as well. I've found this one from the Dept. of Math and Computer Science at Clark university. I'm sure there are other good study aids to Euclid online, but I like this one to start with because the notes, at least that I have looked at so far, are brief and comprehensible.

I've come to the conclusion that I really can't do what I hope to do without a comprehensive look at classical geometry and proportions. This, I assume, is where my stick-to-it mettle is going to be tested. I'm quite excited about the prospect of studying geometry as part of my study of classical drawing, but I know from long and sad experience that the feeling of eagerness at the beginning cannot be counted on to pull one through to the completion of a project. If anyone else has a sound reason to want to study this subject with me, I would appreciate the companionship. As we all know from our various gym and weight training experiences, it's always easier on the buddy system.

I'll be keeping my eye open on Amazon and elsewhere to see if there are any good study editions. I was commenting this evening that when I studied Latin at King's College, the text we used was Wheelock, I think maybe the 4th edition...? Since my Latin time, 1998/99, I see that Wheelock has been turned into an entire one-man Latin industry, with work books, flash cards, readers, study guides, vocabulary books, 501 tenses and declensions and even whole websites dedicated to helping you get through the 40 chapters. I was remarking that the same thing could certainly profitably be done with Euclid if there were to be a revival of classical education. I will certainly be looking around.

In the meantime, if there is anyone who would consider committing to this project, let me know. As I implied above, it would be best if someone has a good reason to want to study geometry, rather than simply thinking it is a neat idea. I have thought it would be a neat idea, and have never got 'round to it. But I am starting now because I have an actual concrete need to know. The point of having someone to do it with is to keep both people going through to the end (or at least as far as our wee brains can go), which generally requires a serious motivation at the start.

I plan on doing, or I hope to be able to do, about 1/2 an hour a day, most days of the week first thing in the morning. I've started already, a little bit of Book 1, but I'm still pretty weak, so that might take a little building-up-to.

Let me know if you are interested and have the time to devote.



Gregory the Eremite said...

Not what you're asking for, but if you get stuck and need a bit of tuition, I have in the past dragged a handful of students through the first few books...

The online study guide that you've found looks very good. Heath's is a tremendous edition but his commentary is pretty sophisticated (he'll happily pull an algebraic equation for a plane curve out of the hat, with that dispiriting word "plainly").

The other type of resource that can be very useful for studying Euclid is the sort of school textbook that was in use up until the 1960's (oh look, that decade again!). For example, I fairly quickly found Hall's textbook online with Google.

One last thing does cross my mind: if you're thinking about studying Euclid to aid your art, then do remember that Euclid only goes as far as Euclidean geometry :-) If you want a bit of projective geometry, you'll need to add that on.

Nate said...

I am totally interested but obviously my architecture studies in Rome means I don't necessarily have that much time. I do love doing constructions though...

Nate said...

To clarify, I've been studying architecture in Rome with Notre Dame for the year. I found this blog through Seraphic.

Billy Bishop said...

I'm interested but may not be exactly what you had in mind. That said, If I am found wanting, I'd like to play along at home if you will continue to blog about your studies.

My big question is how exactly you propose to do this group study, esp. as a "distance learning" event. I've found an article that seems to be on point.

"Starting a Euclid Club"
Jeremiah Joseph Brodkey
Mathematics Teacher
Vol. 89, No. 5 (MAY 1996), pp. 386-388

First page is here:

Maybe you have better access to the scholarly parts of the Internet that are behind firewalls. I'll be heading to the local research library, which appears to have this journal in their stacks.

Zach said...

Well. You've certainly piqued my interest in Euclid; that said, that whole "time" thing is certainly an issue for me.

I do have the motivation of needing to get Boy #2 through geometry next year, and being thoroughly annoyed at the available texts.

(Yes, I'm geeky enough to think of geometry as fun.)


Mark S. Abeln said...

In my opinion, modern art theory makes way to much of the golden ratio, phi, the emphasis of which comes from Masonic esotericism.

Boethius knew about the Fibonacci series, and identified 9 other proportional systems too. Another proof that Catholics are ten times better!

I would love to learn Euclid again. Besides being a good intellectual discipline, I could use it in composition.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Um, I dunno. I just thought I could find someone else who wants to do it too, and we could do it at the same time, and maybe email each other about our results, and possibly we could help each other if we get stuck.

I don't want to over work this or turn it into some Big Thing.