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Greek Science After Aristotle (Ancient Culture & Society) by [Lloyd, G E R]
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Greek Science After Aristotle (Ancient Culture & Society) Kindle Edition

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  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3462 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (31 Aug. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The non Plato/Aristotle side of Greek Science 14 Jan. 2014
By Dave_the_Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mostly, we are aware of Plato and Aristotle, but there is this whole other side to Greek Science, where people actually tested their ideas, the way we do now in modern science. To a large extent, we don't have the actual writings by the scientists, so, it helps to have a historian trace back from the existing writings which are available, to the original sources. In some cases, we have only fragments of the original writings. Lloyd does a nice job of going back. Also, he speculates on what happened to Greek science after such a great start; the reason I was particularly interested in this book.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but a bit dry 25 Feb. 2011
By Metallurgist - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a follow-on to Professor Lloyd's book "Early Greek Science from Thales to Aristotle". It contains chapters of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, Hellenic Mathematics, Hellenic Astronomy, Hellenic Biology and Medicine, Applied Mechanics and Technology, Ptolemy, Galen and The Decline of Ancient Science. I found this book much more focused than his previous one on early Greek science, but it was equally dry. I particularly liked the section on technology, but the others are also good; good but dry. I was a little disappointed by the Ptolemy chapter because I was expecting a more in-depth treatment of the Ptolemaic system.

I have mentioned twice that I felt that the book was dry, by this I mean that it was slow reading and not as interesting as I had hoped. Nonetheless, I am giving the book 4 stars. While dry, the book contains a lot of very interesting information and was worth the time that I spent on with it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science starting to separate from philosophy 26 Mar. 2012
By Jordan Bell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Unlike Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, which were self-supporting teaching institutions, the Alexandrian Library and Museum were government supported research institutions. Perhaps Ptolemy wanted to give his capital a claim to being the centre of the Greek intellectual world. Certainly the main goal of the Library was to collect and edit standard editions of Greek books more than it was to do research in natural sciences. Still many scientists didn't get any help from patrons, and were either themselves wealthy and could spend their time working on science, taught, or had a profession like medicine or architecture.

I didn't know anything about Theophrastus or Strato, Aristotle's successors as head of the Lyceum, before reading this book. I'm glad to learn about Strato, who had some sensible ideas about physics. Strato argues that a stone dropped from a hundred feet makes a much greater impact on the ground than a stone dropped from a finger's breadth, but according to Aristotle the stones dropped from the two heights should have the same speed at impact with the ground. There is evidence that Strato did experiments and considered them an important part of investigating physical questions.

Epicureanism and Stoicism were the two most important philosophical systems of the Hellenistic age, and only cared about science so far as eliminating superstition. It's important to know that eclipses are natural phenomena that are not caused by upset gods, but it's not important to have a detailed understanding of astronomy. Epicurus has the idea of plurality of explanations, that if there are multiple explanations that explain a phenomena then all should be accepted; the only problem with this is that Epicurus wants us to stop investigating if we have multiple explanations instead of finding experiments that can distinguish between them.

The chapter on Hellenistic mathematics is good, and for more one should read the works of Heath. Archimedes, in The Method, distinguishes between discovery of a result and justification of the result. Sometimes the method of discovery can itself be made rigorous, and sometimes it suggests something to be true which one can then check by synthetic methods. Archimedes uses a mechanical method for discovery and a geometrical method for justification. Lloyd suggests that instead of seeing how much water a crown, a mass of gold, and a mass of silver displace, as is sometimes described, he may have weighed them submerged under water.

Galen's treatise "Quod optimus medicus sit quoque philosophus" asserts that training in logic, physics and ethics is an essential part of the training of the physician. One studies logic to be able to set out a proof and to be able to distinguish between valid and invalid arguments. Galen also believed that it was crucial for the physician to do actual dissections of animals and if possible humans, and that merely reading about them and talking about them was inadequate, "and he observes that it was only by repeating the same dissection several times that some of his own discoveries were made" (p. 144) To understand some processes the physician must perform vivisections of animals. Sometimes this would amount to creating artificial conditions to investigate natural processes, which I think is higher level of experimental sophistication then repeatedly observing things that already happen in nature, for example to show that urine enters the bladder through the ureters.

The neo-Platonist Iamblichus advocated the mathematization of the study of nature, since in his words, "mathematics is prior to nature" (p. 156). Nature should be interpreted in terms of mathematics and then attacked. John Philoponous argued against Aristotle's ideas about motion, and denies that there is a difference between the laws of heavenly motion and terrestial motion.

By the Christian era we see the Church fathers like St. Augustine saying the Christian has no reason to care about physics, zoology or geology, as long as they believe that the goodness of God is the cause of all things, and Tertullian, who says that "we have no need of curiosity after Jesus Christ, nor of research after the gospel". "The men who engaged in what we should call science had always been a tiny minority who faced the indifference of the mass of their contemporaries at every period. But in late antiquity the triumph of Christianity both symbolized, and itself contributed to, a deterioration in an already unfavourable climate of opinion." (p. 170) There were no social conditions to insure the continuous growth of science.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greek Science the second time around. 24 Jun. 2000
By Atheen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'd read this book some years ago, but found it difficult going at the time. I decided to re-read it recently, as it was on the wish list of a friend which reminded me I still had the volume. This time around I found it much more interesting and more understandable. There definitely seems to be a time for everything, and apparently this was the time for Greek Science for me. What I found of particular interest was a new perspective that I acheived in a novel way. I recently attended a Minneapolis Childrens' Theater production featuring events from the life of Galileo. It was pointed out in the playbill that what seems to us in retrospect a patent persecution of a new concept by jealous intellectuals and religious authorities was not quite so clear cut at the time. In fact the scientific thinkers of Galileo's time, as those of the Hellanistic Greek and Roman times, labored with the technological inability to test the validity of scientific observations. Much that passed for science during those times might be considered philosophy or metaphysics in our own. Without the means of externally testing opposing explanations of natural phenomenon little of definitive worth could be said about any given observation. It then became a matter of philosophical orientation, of reputation and of religious sanction. It was in fact anybody's guess. We who are used to measuring equipment as simple as a thermometer and as complex as an earth orbiting satelite often forget that these devices were not yet available to the researchers of ancient or even medieaval times. Some of the simpler devices were only just being introduced in Galileo's time and were considered untested and highly suspect themselves. Given that a number of ingeneous inventions of early times were engineered with the specific intent to mislead or impress the public, the scepticism with which something like the telescope or the microscope were greeted is not surprising. To the early critic, one could not necessarily believe ones eyes; it was better to believe what the Holy Book or a learned philosopher had to say with respect to nature than what a "conjurer" might say. Greek Science After Aristotle makes this point apparent, explaning that only in the area of mathematics and in applied physics (engineering, especially military engineering) could anything like trustworthy precision be achieved. It also points out that though modern science values observation and experiment, the neglect of these was not necessarily due to a laziness or disregard for precision, but due to a lack of technological means. In fact, much was done and some very ingeneous devices to accomplish it were invented to perform it. The researchers of the times had to be very innovative and original in their approach to problem solving; something which we with our computerized devices are rarely called upon to do a such basic levels. Rereading the book from this perspective definitely gave me a greater appreciation for the achievments of our intellectual predecessors.
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