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Archive for July, 2014

The term פנה [PINAH] in Isaac Israeli’s Yesod Olam (Foundation of the World)

IlanaWartenberg9 July 2014

I would be most grateful to know whether anyone has encountered the Hebrew term פנה,  which usually refers to a corner, with the meaning of ‘element’, ‘component’ or anything along these lines – in particular in a mathematical or philosophical context.

פנה is found in the first book of Isaac Israeli’s Yesod Olam (Toledo, 1310), a major calendrical treatise of very high scientific level, which contains extensive mathematical and astronomical materials. In the part about Euclidean geometry we find:

כל משולש שבעולם ידוע הוא וברור שהוא בעל שש פנות והם ג’ צלעותיו וג’ זויותיו..

[For] every triangle in the world it is known and clear that it has [lit. possesses] six PINOT [pl. of PINAH] and they are its 3 sides and its 3 angles…

Also, if anyone knows of the usage of the Arabic term  ركن (corner) to designate an element or a component as appears above, that would be most helpful.

Many thanks in advance for your help.