Stones, Snowflakes, and Insect Eggs

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This paper takes as its broad context the evolution of the place of geometry in ways of thinking about nature and art in early modern Europe. Considering a set of questions about how Nature creates geometric forms, particularly in minerals but also in other kinds of natural beings, the paperexplores the concept of "figure"as it appears in Conrad Gessner's De rerum fossilium, where figure appears as a broad category that cuts across abstract geometry, artifactual images, and shape appearing within natural entities. Gessner is placed within changing ideas about the role of geometry as an intellectual pursuit or, rather, a mechanical property of nature conceived as inanimate and rule-bound.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-363
Number of pages23
JournalNuncius / Istituto e museo di storia della scienza
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020


  • Geometry
  • artistic intention
  • nature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History and Philosophy of Science


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