David Edwin Pingree
was a University Professor and Professor of History of Mathematics and Classics at Brown University
Brown University is a private, Ivy League university located in Providence, Rhode Island, United States. Founded in 1764 prior to American independence from the British Empire as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations early in the reign of King George III ,...
, and was one of America's foremost historians of the exact sciences in antiquity.
He graduated from Phillips Academy
Phillips Academy is a selective, co-educational independent boarding high school for boarding and day students in grades 9–12, along with a post-graduate year...
in Andover, Massachusetts in 1950 and thereafter attended Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...
, where he earned his doctorate in 1960 with a dissertation on the transmission of Hellenistic astrology
Hellenistic astrology is a tradition of horoscopic astrology that was developed and practiced in Hellenistic Egypt and the Mediterranean, whose texts were written in Greek , mainly around the late 2nd or early 1st century B.C.E...
He joined the History of Mathematics Department at Brown University in 1971, eventually holding the chair until his death.
As successor to Otto Neugebauer (1899–1990) in Brown’s History of Mathematics Department (which Neugebauer established in 1947), Pingree numbered among his colleagues men of extraordinary learning, especially Abraham Sachs
Abraham Sachs was an American assyriologist. He earned his PhD in Assyriology in 1939 at Johns Hopkins University. He is known for his collaboration with Otto Neugebauer, whom he met in 1941 when the latter visited the Oriental Institute in Chicago; Neugebauer and Sachs joined on the publication...
and Gerald Toomer.
Jon McGinnis of the University of Missouri, St. Louis, describes Pingree’s life-work thus:
…Pingree devoted himself to the study of the exact sciences, such as mathematics, mathematical astronomy and astral omens. He was also acutely interested in the transmission of those sciences across cultural and linguistic boundaries. His interest in the transmission of the exact sciences came from two fronts or, perhaps more correctly, his interest represents two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, he was concerned with how one culture might appropriate, and so alter, the science of another (earlier) culture in order to make that earlier scientific knowledge more accessible to the recipient culture. On the other hand, Pingree was also interested in how scientific texts surviving from a later culture might be used to reconstruct or cast light on our fragmentary records of earlier sciences. In this quest, Pingree would, with equal facility use ancient Greek works to clarify Babylonian texts on divination, turn to Arabic treatises to illuminate early Greek astronomical and astrological texts, seek Sanskrit texts to explain Arabic astronomy, or track the appearance of Indian astronomy in medieval Europe.
Pingree's mastery of ancient languages was perhaps unsurpassed in his generation, and students were awed and charmed by the depth of humanistic, mathematical, and scientific learning which he brought to bear (and expected of them) in his teaching. He is perhaps most renowned for his expertise in Jyotiḥśāstra, the Indian science which encompasses astronomy, astrology, mathematics, and divination.
In June, 2007 the Brown University Library acquired Pingree's personal collection of scholarly materials. The collection focuses on the study of mathematics and exact sciences in the ancient world, especially India, and the relationship of Eastern mathematics to the development of mathematics and related disciplines in the West. The collection contains some 22,000 volumes, 700 fascicles, and a number of manuscripts. The holdings consist of both antiquarian and recent materials published in Sanskrit, Arabic, Hindi, Persian and Western languages.
Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowships are American grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts." Each year, the foundation makes...
in 1975 and a MacArthur Fellowship in 1981, he was a member of the Society of Fellows at Harvard, the American Philosophical Society
The American Philosophical Society, founded in 1743, and located in Philadelphia, Pa., is an eminent scholarly organization of international reputation, that promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research, professional meetings, publications,...
, and the Institute for Advanced Study
The Institute for Advanced Study, located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States, is an independent postgraduate center for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. It was founded in 1930 by Abraham Flexner...
; he was also A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...
- Babylonian Planetary Omens (with Erica Reiner
Erica Reiner was an American Assyriologist and author. From 1974, she was Editor of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, which was published in 21 volumes over 55 years, being completed in 2011 after her death. Reiner was associated with the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago...
: Brill, Leiden 2005)
- Census of the Exact Sciences in Sanskrit (5 vols., American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia 1970 et seq.)
- Arabic Astronomy in Sanskrit: Al-Birjandī on Tadhkira II, Chapter 11 and its Sanskrit Translation (with Takanori Kusuba: Brill, Leiden 2002).
- The Yavanajātaka of Sphujidhvaja (2 vols., Harvard Oriental Series 48, 1978).
- Dorothei Sidonii carmen astrologicum (Teubner, Leipzig, 1976).
- Vettii Valentis Antiocheni Anthologiarum Libri Novem (Teubner, Leipzig, 1986).
- The Liber Aristotilis of Hugo of Santalla (edited with Charles Burnett Warburg Institute Surveys and Texts 26, London, 1997).
- See the Worldcat listing for further titles.
Sources and external links
- Memorial by Kim Plofker and Bernard R. Goldstein
Bernard R. Goldstein is a historian of science and professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh. Goldstein published on the history of astronomy in medieval Islamic and Jewish civilization and early modern times.- Selected publications :...
in Aestimatio (http://www.ircps.org/publications/aestimatio/pdf/2005-06-03_Pingree.pdf#search=%22%22david%20edwin%20pingree%22%22)
- Memorial by Toke Lindegaard Knudsen in the Bulletin of the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~molinsky/cshpm/Bulletin/38-2006.pdf (pp. 5–6)
- Death notice in the Brown Daily Herald http://www.browndailyherald.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticle&uStory_id=47d666ba-15db-402b-bd71-a539c61b03c5
- "An Indiana Jones of Mathematics" in the George Street Journal http://www.brown.edu/Administration/George_Street_Journal/Pingree.html
- A collection of PDFs of some texts used by Dr. Pingree and his students, including a copy of a Heiberg edition of the Almagest used by Dr. Pingree himself: http://www.wilbourhall.org