„It is remarkable that this generalization of plane geometry to surface geometry is identical with that generalization of geometry which originated from the analysis of the axiom of parallels.... the construction of non-Euclidean geometries could have been equally well based upon the elimination of other axioms. It was perhaps due to an intuitive feeling for theoretical fruitfulness that the criticism always centered around the axiom of parallels. For in this way the axiomatic basis was created for that extension of geometry in which the metric appears as an independent variable. Once the significance of the metric as the characteristic feature of the plane has been recognized from the viewpoint of Gauss' plane theory, it is easy to point out, conversely, its connection with the axiom of parallels. The property of the straight line as being the shortest connection between two points can be transferred to curved surfaces, and leads to the concept of straightest line; on the surface of the sphere the great circles play the role of the shortest line of connection... analogous to that of the straight line on the plane. Yet while the great circles as "straight lines" share the most important property with those of the plane, they are distinct from the latter with respect to the axiom of the parallels: all great circles of the sphere intersect and therefore there are no parallels among these "straight lines".... If this idea is carried through, and all axioms are formulated on the understanding that by "straight lines" are meant the great circles of the sphere and by "plane" is meant the surface of the sphere, it turns out that this system of elements satisfies the system of axioms within two dimensions which is nearly identical in all of it statements with the axiomatic system of Euclidean geometry; the only exception is the formulation of the axiom of the parallels. The geometry of the spherical surface can be viewed as the realization of a two-dimensional non-Euclidean geometry: the denial of the axiom of the parallels singles out that generalization of geometry which occurs in the transition from the plane to the curve surface.“

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Hans Reichenbach
1891 - 1953
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„The surfaces of three-dimensional space are distinguished from each other not only by their curvature but also by certain more general properties. A spherical surface, for instance, differs from a plane not only by its roundness but also by its finiteness. Finiteness is a holistic property. The sphere as a whole has a character different from that of a plane. A spherical surface made from rubber, such as a balloon, can be twisted so that its geometry changes.... but it cannot be distorted in such a way as that it will cover a plane. All surfaces obtained by distortion of the rubber sphere possess the same holistic properties; they are closed and finite. The plane as a whole has the property of being open; its straight lines are not closed. This feature is mathematically expressed as follows. Every surface can be mapped upon another one by the coordination of each point of one surface to a point of the other surface, as illustrated by the projection of a shadow picture by light rays. For surfaces with the same holistic properties it is possible to carry through this transformation uniquely and continuously in all points. Uniquely means: one and only one point of one surface corresponds to a given point of the other surface, and vice versa. Continuously means: neighborhood relations in infinitesimal domains are preserved; no tearing of the surface or shifting of relative positions of points occur at any place. For surfaces with different holistic properties, such a transformation can be carried through locally, but there is no single transformation for the whole surface.“

—  Hans Reichenbach American philosopher 1891 - 1953

„The attempt to avoid a direct affirmation about infinite parallel straight lines caused Euclid to phrase the parallel axiom in a rather complicated way. He realized that, so worded, this axiom lacked the self-sufficiency of the other nine axioms, and there is good reason to believe that he avoided using it until he had to. Many Greeks tried to find substitute axioms for the parallel axiom or to prove it on the basis of the other nine. ...Simplicius“

—  Morris Kline American mathematician 1908 - 1992
Context: The attempt to avoid a direct affirmation about infinite parallel straight lines caused Euclid to phrase the parallel axiom in a rather complicated way. He realized that, so worded, this axiom lacked the self-sufficiency of the other nine axioms, and there is good reason to believe that he avoided using it until he had to. Many Greeks tried to find substitute axioms for the parallel axiom or to prove it on the basis of the other nine.... Simplicius cites others who worked on the problem and says further that people "in ancient times" objected to the use of the parallel postulate. p. 177

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„Hitherto we have considered the apparent motion of the star about its true place, as made only in a plane parallel to the ecliptic, in which case it appears to describe a circle in that plane; but since, when we judge of the place and motion of a star, we conceive it to be in the surface of a sphere, whose centre is our eye, 'twill be necessary to reduce the motion in that plane to what it would really appear on the surface of such a sphere, or (which will be equivalent) to what it would appear on a plane touching such a sphere in the star's true place. Now in the present case, where we conceive the eye at an indefinite distance, this will be done by letting fall perpendiculars from each point of the circle on such a plane, which from the nature of the orthographic projection will form an ellipsis, whose greater axis will be equal to the diameter of that circle, and the lesser axis to the greater as the sine of the star's latitude to the radius, for this latter plane being perpendicular to a line drawn from the centre of the sphere through the star's true place, which line is inclined to the ecliptic in an angle equal to the star's latitude; the touching plane will be inclined to the plane of the ecliptic in an angle equal to the complement of the latitude. But it is a known proposition in the orthographic projection of the sphere, that any circle inclined to the plane of the projection, to which lines drawn from the eye, supposed at an infinite distance, are at right angles, is projected into an ellipsis, having its longer axis equal to its diameter, and its shorter to twice the cosine of the inclination to the plane of the projection, half the longer axis or diameter being the radius.
Such an ellipse will be formed in our present case...“

—  James Bradley English astronomer; Astronomer Royal 1693 - 1762

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„In order to see the difference which exists between... studies,—for instance, history and geometry, it will be useful to ask how we come by knowledge in each. Suppose, for example, we feel certain of a fact related in history... if we apply the notions of evidence which every-day experience justifies us in entertaining, we feel that the improbability of the contrary compels us to take refuge in the belief of the fact; and, if we allow that there is still a possibility of its falsehood, it is because this supposition does not involve absolute absurdity, but only extreme improbability.
In mathematics the case is wholly different... and the difference consists in this—that, instead of showing the contrary of the proposition asserted to be only improbable, it proves it at once to be absurd and impossible. This is done by showing that the contrary of the proposition which is asserted is in direct contradiction to some extremely evident fact, of the truth of which our eyes and hands convince us. In geometry, of the principles alluded to, those which are most commonly used are—
I. If a magnitude is divided into parts, the whole is greater than either of those parts.
II. Two straight lines cannot inclose a space.
III. Through one point only one straight line can be drawn, which never meets another straight line, or which is parallel to it.
It is on such principles as these that the whole of geometry is founded, and the demonstration of every proposition consists in proving the contrary of it to be inconsistent with one of these.“

—  Augustus De Morgan British mathematician, philosopher and university teacher (1806-1871) 1806 - 1871
Ch. I., (1898) pp. 2-5

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„The other derives axioms from the senses and particulars, rising by a gradual and unbroken ascent, so that it arrives at the most general axioms last of all. This is the true way, but as yet untried.“

—  Francis Bacon English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, and author 1561 - 1626
Context: There are and can be only two ways of searching into and discovering truth. The one flies from the senses and particulars to the most general axioms, and from these principles, the truth of which it takes for settled and immovable, proceeds to judgment and to the discovery of middle axioms. And this way is now in fashion. The other derives axioms from the senses and particulars, rising by a gradual and unbroken ascent, so that it arrives at the most general axioms last of all. This is the true way, but as yet untried. Aphorism 19

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„To help us to understand three-dimensional spaces, two-dimensional analogies may be very useful... A two-dimensional space of zero curvature is a plane, say a sheet of paper. The two-dimensional space of positive curvature is a convex surface, such as the shell of an egg. It is bent away from the plane towards the same side in all directions. The curvature of the egg, however, is not constant: it is strongest at the small end. The surface of constant positive curvature is the sphere... The two-dimensional space of negative curvature is a surface that is convex in some directions and concave in others, such as the surface of a saddle or the middle part of an hour glass. Of these two-dimensional surfaces we can form a mental picture because we can view them from outside... But... a being... unable to leave the surface... could only decide of which kind his surface was by studying the properties of geometrical figures drawn on it.... On the sheet of paper the sum of the three angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles, on the egg, or the sphere, it is larger, on the saddle it is smaller.... The spaces of zero and negative curvature are infinite, that of positive curvature is finite.... the inhabitant of the two-dimensional surface could determine its curvature if he were able to study very large triangles or very long straight lines. If the curvature were so minute that the sum of the angles of the largest triangle that he could measure would... differ... by an amount too small to be appreciable... then he would be unable to determine the curvature, unless he had some means of communicating with somebody living in the third dimension.... our case with reference to three-dimensional space is exactly similar.... we must study very large triangles and rays of light coming from very great distances. Thus the decision must necessarily depend on astronomical observations.“

—  Willem de Sitter Dutch cosmologist 1872 - 1934

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