new: EJVS- 7-5: Staal on Vedic Geometry & the History of Science

Axel Michaels axel.michaels at URZ.UNI-HEIDELBERG.DE
Mon Aug 20 17:21:01 UTC 2001

F. Staal suggests in his Addendum to Michael Witzel´s brilliant
"Autochthonous Aryans" (EJVS 7-3) that - more than 20 years ago - I had
proposed in my thesis "Beweisverfahren in der vedischen Sakralgeometrie"
(Hamburg, 1978) an autochthonous theory of Vedic geometry. This is true, but
in doing this I did not deny any relationship between Vedic geometry and
other geometries. I was concerned with the historical and ritual conditions
that led to the development of Vedic sacral geometry and as a consequence to
proofs of certain theorems. In lack of other sources than we have got, i.e.
the Sulvasutras and related texts as well as the archaeological remains, I
still believe that the development from pre-geometrical knowledge of placing
bricks and a geometrical theory of how to operate with geometrical forms has
primarily to do with the construction of altars and the use of bricks in
various shapes and forms.  At least, I tried to demonstrate how such a
knowledge could have developed from the ritual background, and in a review of
my thesis David Pingree (Isis 72 (1981), 140f.) basically agreed to it. This
does by no means imply that I am saying that such an elementary geometrical
knowledge could not have been influenced by Eurasian links or that it must
have been limited to India or that all this knowledge is originating from
India. However, "the burden of proof always is with the one who proposes such
an exchange."
I wish I still could contribute more substantially to the fascinating
discussion which developed in the past twenty years, but my interests have
gone in another direction.
Axel Michaels

Michael Witzel wrote:

> Frits Staal has added an important addendum to my  "Autochthonous Aryans"
> (EJVS 7-3).
> His article (EJVS 7-5, just published)  is entitled:
> "There Is No Proof But ...
> Addendum to EJVS 7-3 on Vedic Geometry & the History of Science"
> It is available (email version) on my web site as:
> and as pdf file (with diacritics) as:
> and it will also appear on the EJVS site shortly.
> M. Witzel
> ========================================================
> Michael Witzel
> Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
> 2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138, USA
> ph. 1- 617-496 2990 (also messages)
> home page:
> Elect. Journ. of Vedic Studies:

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