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Old 28 Nov 2017, 04:29 AM   #681264 / #1
lpetrich
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Default Richard Carrier: The Scientist in the Early Roman Empire

Was Roman Science in Decline? (Excerpt from My New Book) - Richard Carrier
Quote:
This brings to completion the publication of my Columbia University dissertation, expanded and revised for a broader audience, but still thoroughly academic (it’s heavily footnoted; the bibliography alone extends over sixty pages). The basic table of contents reads:

Introduction
The Natural Philosopher as Ancient Scientist
The Roman Idea of Scientific Progress
In Praise of the Scientist
Christian Rejection of the Scientist
Conclusion

But packed in there is a lot more, including full surveys of the history of ancient science and technology, and such sections as “The Scientist as Hero in the Roman Era,” “The Scientist as Craftsman in the Roman Era,” and “The Methods of Roman Scientists.” Probably the most thorough treatment of Roman science in over forty years. Here is one such section, 3.7, “Was Roman Science in Decline?” Which I’ve also added hyperlinks to for this presentation. It starts just after I finished proving with extensive evidence and citations of scholarship that Romans were fully aware of and praised past and continued scientific progress, and were still engaged in producing it. This section refers to other parts of the book, but you’ll get the idea. You’ll see hints of many other gems in there to find.
He goes into a lot of detail about that, rebutting many people who have claimed otherwise.

Toward the end, he writes
Quote:
Besides those, however, there are four other arguments that appear repeatedly in the literature, which purport to prove that the ancients had no conception of scientific (and technological) progress or were even hostile to the idea. It is often claimed the ancient slave system discouraged interest in progress, or that progress was blocked due to the Romans being dead set against the idea of changing or interfering with the natural order, or that they never had the idea of explaining nature and natural processes mechanically (rather than, say, organically or supernaturally), or that they were so obsessed with a cyclical model of time that they were incapable of even imagining progress or thinking it possible or worthwhile. All false.

The following sections then cover in detail “The Slavery Thesis” (pp. 250-53), “Changing Nature” (pp. 253-58), “Mechanizing Nature” (pp. 258-63), and “The Cyclical Time Thesis” (pp. 263-69). And I follow that with a complete survey of “Ancient Tales of Decline” (pp. 270-307).
Looks awfully interesting. Seems like he also rebuts the "heads in the clouds" thesis, that philosophers preferred reasoning from first principles to doing observations and experiments.
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