By G. E. R. Lloyd
Geoffrey Lloyd's pioneering publication makes use of a learn of historical Greek and chinese language technology and tradition to throw gentle on basic difficulties, either highbrow and ethical, that we nonetheless face this present day. the problems diversity from the talk approximately realism and relativism in philosophy of technological know-how to doubts in regards to the common applicability of the discourse of human rights. Lloyd offers compelling proof that historical civilizations have a lot to supply modern debates in lots of fields of study.
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Extra resources for Ancient Worlds, Modern Reflections: Philosophical Perspectives on Greek and Chinese Science and Culture
Thirdly, to defend their view of phusike, treatises devoted to that subject, such as Aristotle’s, deal very largely with what we should call philosophical problems, to do with causation, inﬁnity, space and time, and so on. Greek phusike bears almost no resemblance to the work currently done in physics laboratories. The same applies to the term from which we get ‘mathematics’. Greek mathematike derives from a verb, manthanein, that covers learning in general. Although what we can call the mathematical studies of Euclid and Archimedes—as well as the rather different work of Hero or Diophantus—certainly fall within Greek mathematike, so too do other ﬁelds of investigation.
The so-called natural philosophers, the phusikoi or phusiologoi, used it to deﬁne the subject over which they claimed particular expertise. Traditional wise men, prophets, and poets were sidelined as dabbling in what could forthwith be dismissed as the ‘supernatural’, the ‘magical’, the ‘superstitious’. Thirdly, to defend their view of phusike, treatises devoted to that subject, such as Aristotle’s, deal very largely with what we should call philosophical problems, to do with causation, inﬁnity, space and time, and so on.
No doubt an economic surplus is necessary to allow specialists to carry on such work; and substantial collections of astronomical data are inconceivable without highly trained scribes to record them. Yet none of that helps to account for the speciﬁcity of the enquiries undertaken in different ancient civilizations. To make any progress here we have to follow up the background to the values that generated the ambition to understand in the ﬁrst place. That means examining the social and political contexts within which the investigators worked.