- 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
- ASIN: B00CTSBLPE
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- Word Wise: Enabled
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #533,849 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Greek Science After Aristotle (Ancient Culture & Society) Kindle Edition
|Length: 208 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
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.
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.