Ancient science is a subject that commands extensive general interest. This is the first non-technical survey of the interface between ancient and modern science. It is aimed at crossover student sales in classics, the history of ideas and the history and philosophy of science. Modern science and its technology are the children of the seventeenth-century. But the bold investigative experimentation and scientific systems of thought that this era spawned were in turn thoroughly influenced by Greek and Roman authors and ideas. Xenophanes' ideas about fossils informed the science of geology. Copernicus and his novel notion that the earth revolved around the sun, and not vice versa, were arguably influenced by the Samian philosopher and mathematician, Aristarchus. And the anatomists of Alexandria still - even today - have valuable insights to bring to current ethical discussions of vivisection and animal welfare. Shedding fresh light on topics such as Euclid's geometry, Aristotelian physics and the proto-Darwinism of pre-Socratic thinkers like Empedocles, Philippa Lang addresses the fascinating differences and similarities between ancient and modern conceptions of 'science'.
She discusses the origins of the cosmos; natural laws in mathematics and physics; conceptions and philosophies of biology and disease; ideas about mechanistic science and technology as they have been used to control the societies of human beings; and the important nexus between science, morality and ethics. Greek and Roman parallels illuminate and clarify the meaning of science itself.
Philippa Lang is Assistant Professor of Classics at Emory University, and the author of A Dream of Healing: Medicine in Ptolomaic Egypt (2011).
‘The study of ancient Greco-Roman science has undergone considerable changes in recent years, and our understandings of many aspects of modern science even more so. In this engaging new analysis Philippa Lang pulls off the remarkable feat of using the moderns to offer a fresh evaluation of the ancients’ work. Thus she cites modern disputes in cosmology the better to appreciate ancient speculations about the origins of things while never underestimating the different methods used, and again recent developments in evolutionary theory to throw light on ancient debates on the changes to which animal kinds are subject. Ancient science, in her confident hands, is not just of historical interest, but brought to life as a record of the acute endeavours of inquiring minds to make sense of their environment.’
Sir Geoffrey Lloyd, FBA, Professor Emeritus of Ancient Philosophy and Science, University of Cambridge
‘In her new book Philippa Lang discusses the differences and similarities between a variety of ancient and a variety of modern scientific explanations for the cosmos, species, methods, motion, and health. She offers a careful and engaging argument that brings ancient thinkers face to face with moderns such as Dalton, Darwin, Einstein, and Galileo, revealing where and why ancient explanations were found wanting, and how later formulations of particular problems and questions offered new solutions and explanations for the same phenomena. She is thought-provoking on ancient scientific method and theory; on the nature of experiment and observation, prediction and results, expectations and interpretations; and on the application of ancient scientific research to real world problems, making use throughout of well chosen and clearly explained examples.’
Tracey Rihll, Reader in History and Classics, Swansea University, author of Greek Science and co-editor of Science and Mathematics in Ancient Greek Culture
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd
Series: Ancients and ModernsHardback
Publication Date: 30 Aug 2015
Number of Pages: 192
Illustrations: 10-20 bw integrated illustrations, 1 map