This article concerns the so-called irrigation system in the Timaeus’ biology (77a-81e), which replenishes our body’s tissues with resources from food delivered as blood. I argue that this system functions mainly by the natural like-to-like motion of the elements and that the circulation of blood is an important case study of Plato’s physics. We are forced to revise the view that the elements attract their like. Instead, similar elements merely tend to coalesce with each other in virtue of their tactile (...) features as the atomists describe. The notion of attraction is replaced with this notion of mere coalescence. I begin by outlining how blood is made from food. I then argue that an understanding of health and disease compels us to read Plato as if he were an atomist and to abandon the popular scholarly interpretations according to which the elements attract each other. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Bryson’s Oikonomikos is a fascinating example of the oikonomia genre in several different respects. Although the problematic transmission of this Neopythagorean text makes studying it a challenge, such effort is well-rewarded with an elaborate argument which paints the human bodily constitution, the central bodily functions and oikonomic activities as intrinsically linked. Focusing on Bryson’s argument which roots oikonomic behaviour in human biology, I explore the underlying conceptualisation of human nature and contextualise it within relevant (...) philosophical and scientific traditions. (shrink)
This book assembles an international team of scholars to move forward the study of Plato’s conception of time, to find fresh insights for interpreting his cosmology, and to reimagine the Platonic tradition.
Models are of central importance in many scientific contexts. The centrality of models such as inflationary models in cosmology, general-circulation models of the global climate, the double-helix model of DNA, evolutionary models in biology, agent-based models in the social sciences, and general-equilibrium models of markets in their respective domains is a case in point (the Other Internet Resources section at the end of this entry contains links to online resources that discuss these models). Scientists spend significant amounts of time building, (...) testing, comparing, and revising models, and much journal space is dedicated to interpreting and discussing the implications of models. In short, models are one of the principal instruments of modern science. (shrink)
Metaphors play a crucial role in the understanding of science. Since antiquity, metaphors have been used in technical texts to describe structures unknown or unnamed; besides establishing a terminology of science, metaphors are also important for the expression of concepts. However, a concise terminology to classify metaphors in the language of science has not been established yet. But in the context of studying the history of a science and its concepts, a precise typology of metaphors can be helpful. Metaphors have (...) a lot in common with models in science, as has been observed already. In this paper, therefore, I suggest a typology of metaphor in ancient science to fill this terminological gap by using concepts applied to the classification of models in science, as coined by Rom Harré. I propose to differentiate between homeoconceptual metaphors and paraconceptual metaphors. Furthermore, functional and structural aspects of metaphors in ancient science are taken into account. Case studies from ancient texts displaying metaphors in ancient science are presented and classified following the outlined typology of metaphors. (shrink)
In the last two centuries, a better understanding of nature and significant advances in science and technology have led to the emergence of new and exciting ideas and approaches. Almost all of them are known as the product of contemporary science. Ideas such as evolution in biology, the ideas about the beginning of the universe (models based on the existence of a starting point for the universe or otherwise), and the idea of parallel worlds in physics. Although these ideas have (...) flourished in the context of modern science, they contain important philosophical backgrounds and as a result, have some important philosophical consequences. In this article, a historical review of the writings and works of Ibn Sina shows that each of these ideas has been presented similarly since ancient times in natural philosophy. Therefore, their position is more philosophical than scientific. Using these theories without considering their metaphysical and non-experimental assumptions will lead to misconceptions. Many of the challenges between science and religion stem from not considering the limits of empirical science and a lack of attention to the metaphysical assumptions of scientific theories. In this article, we will explain Ibn Sina's reasons for or against these theories as one of the first people to explicitly examine the scientific and philosophical aspects of these theories. Ibn Sina's scientific accuracy and admirable scientific spirit can be enlightening for contemporary scholars. (shrink)
Pathways into the Study of Ancient Sciences: Selected Essays. By David Pingree. Edited by Isabelle Pingree and John M. Steele. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 104, pt. 3. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society Press, 2014. Pp. xxii + 503.
On propose ici de clarifier ce qu’Anaximandre entendait par « le divin » et ce qu’il appelait des « dieux ». À partir d’une réévaluation des sources anciennes, on soutient que cette enquête peut aider à comprendre son modèle cosmologique et le problème des cataclysmes dans son système. Trois hypothèses sont avancées à cette fin : [i] que dans Physique, III, 4, 203b3 15, le syntagme τὸ ἄπειρον renvoie à une notion concrète de substrat infini ; [ii] que dans ce (...) même passage, Aristote n’a probablement pas attribué aux philosophes de la nature – y compris Anaximandre – la thèse selon laquelle τὸ ἄπειρον est divin, mais plutôt la thèse selon laquelle ils comprennent le divin comme étant immortel et impérissable ; [iii] qu’Anaximandre, en supposant que « les astres célestes » sont des dieux, admettrait qu’ils naissent mais ne se détruisent pas – ce qui réfuterait l’idée d’un cataclysme universel chez lui. En conclusion, l’étude discute en quoi consisterait la gouvernance cosmique de τὸ ἄπειρον dans un univers divisé en trois niveaux et propose que cette gouvernance viendrait du fait que τὸ ἄπειρον possède un mouvement éternel. (shrink)
In antiquity living beings are inextricably linked to the cosmos as a whole. Ancient biology and cosmology depend upon one another and therefore a complete understanding of one requires a full account of the other. This volume addresses many philosophical issues that arise from this double relation. Does the cosmos have a soul of its own? Why? Is either of these two disciplines more basic than the other, or are they at the same explanatory level? What is the relationship between (...) living things and the cosmos as a whole? If the cosmos is an animate intelligent being, what is the nature of its thoughts and actions? How do these relate to our own thoughts and actions? Do they pose a threat to our autonomy as subjects and agents? And what is the place of zoogony in cosmogony? A distinguished international team of contributors provides original essays discussing these questions. (shrink)
This dissertation is about the early history of the concept of nature (φύσις or φυή/φυά) in Greek poetry and philosophy, and the significance of certain metaphors for that history, especially ones relating to plants (φυτά). The derivation of φύσις and φυή/φυά from the verb φύω/φύομαι (“grow,” but also “come to be”), which is likewise the source of φυτόν (“plant”), continues to nourish arguments about the historical role of the vegetal paradigm in the development of the Greek concept of nature. The (...) recent and widespread renewal of interest in nature and vegetation, in early Greek literature and innumerable other contexts, warrants a fresh assessment of the evidence, both with regard to the precise concepts of nature operating in the different corpora, and with regard to the precise significance of the vegetal metaphors. This dissertation focuses on two corpora, belonging to the fifth-century poets Pindar and Empedocles. In an era of conceptual revolutions and intense renewal and experimentation with metaphors in poetry and other discourse, both of these poets became famous for their metaphors as well as for their concepts of nature (for which Pindar uses both φύσις and φυά, Empedocles only φύσις). Novel analyses of their conceptualization of nature in Chapters 1 and 3 are paired with assessments in Chapters 2 and 4 of the significance of their plant metaphors, such as Pindar’s “fruit of the mind” and Empedocles’ elemental “roots.” Although it is commonly asserted that their vegetal imagery implies a concept of a universal Nature, it has been shown that their (and their contemporaries’) concepts of φύσις and φυά were limited to concrete individuals or groups; moreover, this dissertation argues, against the scholarly consensus, that both authors consistently use φύσις (and Pindar also φυά) to designate the “nature” or hypostatized collection of innate characteristics of an individual or group. One of the general tasks therefore of this dissertation is to show how vegetal metaphors bear on the explicit conceptualization of φύσις or φυά while also showing how certain metaphors prefigure the concept’s later history. Drawing on work in historical poetics, historical semantics, the history of concepts, and the history and theory of metaphors, this dissertation examines how the emerging concept of nature entered into original and powerful relationships with vegetal metaphors in the poetry of Pindar and Empedocles. (shrink)
This volume explores the versatility of the concept of pneuma in philosophical and medical theories in the wake of Aristotle’s physics. It offers fourteen separate studies of how the concept of pneuma was used in a range of physical, physiological, psychological, cosmological and ethical inquiries. The focus is on individual thinkers or traditions and the specific questions they sought to address, including early Peripatetic sources, the Stoics, the major Hellenistic medical traditions, Galen, as well as Proclus in Late Antiquity and (...) John Zacharias Aktouarios in the early 14th century. Building on new scholarly approaches and on recent advancements in our understanding of Graeco-Roman philosophy and medicine, the volume prompts a profound re-evaluation of this fluid and adaptable, but crucially important, substance, in antiquity and beyond. (shrink)
The Pneumatist school of medicine has the distinction of being the only medical school in antiquity named for a belief in a part of a human being. Unlike the Herophileans or the Asclepiadeans, their name does not pick out the founder of the school. Unlike the Dogmatists, Empiricists, or Methodists, their name does not pick out a specific approach to medicine. Instead, the name picks out a belief: the fact that pneuma is of paramount importance, both for explaining health and (...) disease, and for determining treatments for the healthy and sick. In this paper, we re-examine what our sources say about the pneuma of the Pneumatists in order to understand what these physicians thought it was and how it shaped their views on physiology, diagnosis and treatment. (shrink)
This book provides a comprehensive overview of the key themes in Greek and Roman science, medicine, mathematics and technology. A distinguished team of specialists engage with topics including the role of observation and experiment, Presocratic natural philosophy, ancient creationism, and the special style of ancient Greek mathematical texts, while several chapters confront key questions in the philosophy of science such as the relationship between evidence and explanation. The volume will spark renewed discussion about the character of 'ancient' versus 'modern' science, (...) and will broaden readers' understanding of the rich traditions of ancient Greco-Roman natural philosophy, science, medicine and mathematics. (shrink)
Relying upon a very close reading of all of the definitions given in Euclid’s Elements, I argue that this mathematical treatise contains a philosophical treatment of mathematical objects. Specifically, I show that Euclid draws elaborate metaphysical distinctions between substances and non-substantial attributes of substances, different kinds of substance, and different kinds of non-substance. While the general metaphysical theory adopted in the Elements resembles that of Aristotle in many respects, Euclid does not employ Aristotle’s terminology, or indeed, any philosophical terminology at (...) all. Instead, Euclid systematically uses different types of definition to distinguish between metaphysically different kinds of mathematical object. (shrink)
This volume is the first in English to provide a full, systematic investigation into Aristotle's criticisms of earlier Greek theories of the soul from the perspective of his theory of scientific explanation. Some interpreters of the De Anima have seen Aristotle's criticisms of Presocratic, Platonic, and other views about the soul as unfair or dialectical, but Jason W. Carter argues that Aristotle's criticisms are in fact a justified attempt to test the adequacy of earlier theories in terms of the theory (...) of scientific knowledge he advances in the Posterior Analytics. Carter proposes a new interpretation of Aristotle's confrontations with earlier psychology, showing how his reception of other Greek philosophers shaped his own hylomorphic psychology and led him to adopt a novel dualist theory of the soul–body relation. His book will be important for students and scholars of Aristotle, ancient Greek psychology, and the history of the mind–body problem. (shrink)
“Ancient DNA Research” is the practice of extracting, sequencing, and analyzing degraded DNA from dead organisms that are hundreds to thousands of years old. Today, many researchers are interested in adapting state-of-the-art molecular biological techniques and high-throughput sequencing technologies to optimize the recovery of DNA from fossils, then use it for studying evolutionary history. However, the recovery of DNA from fossils has also fueled the idea of resurrecting extinct species, especially as its emergence corresponded with the book and movie Jurassic (...) Park in the 1990s. In this paper, I use historical material, interviews with scientists, and philosophical literature to argue that the search for DNA from fossils can be characterized as a data-driven and celebrity-driven practice. Philosophers have recently argued the need to seriously consider the role of data-driven inquiry in the sciences, and likewise, this history highlights the need to seriously consider the role of celebrity in shaping the kind of research that gets pursued, funded, and ultimately completed. On this point, this history highlights that the traditional philosophical and scientific distinctions between data-driven and hypothesis-driven research are not always useful for understanding the process and practice of science. Consequently, I argue that the celebrity status of a particular research practice can be considered as a “serious epistemic strategy” that researchers, as well as editors and funders, employ when making choices about their research and publication processes. This interplay between celebrity and methodology matters for the epistemology of science. (shrink)
Chapter 1st of the book. This chapter explores the fundamental ambiguity of the concept of plasticity – between openness and determination, change and stabilization of forms. This pluralism of meanings is used to unpack different instantiations of corporeal plasticity across various epochs, starting from ancient and early modern medicine, particularly humouralism. A genealogical approach displaces the notion that plasticity is a unitary phenomenon, coming in the abstract, and illuminates the unequal distribution of different forms of plasticities across social, gender, and (...) ethnic groups. Taking a longer view of the plastic body as a ubiquitous belief in traditions predating and coexisting with modern medicine will help contextualize the seeming radicalism of today’s turn to permeability and the exceptionalism of Western findings. By highlighting the complex biopolitical usages of plasticity in the past, the chapter warns against simplistic appropriations of the term in contemporary body/world configurations driven by findings in neuroscience, epigenetics and microbiomics. (shrink)
What was science for the Orthodox Greek theologian of the nineteenth century? How did it feature in his (theologians were all men at the time) own work? This article is an attempt to describe the science and religion interactions by placing Greek Orthodox theologians of the nineteenth century in the center of the historical narrative, rather than treat them as occasional deuteragonists in the scientists’ historiography. The picture that emerges is far more complicated than one of antagonism, indifference, conflict, or (...) coexistence. Greek theologians saw themselves as scientists and treated theology as a positive, rational science. They developed strategies to delineate their disciplinary borders and safeguard their identity as expert scholars by harnessing their university and academic credentials. For that reason, they had to invoke famous German and other Western theologians, while ensuring that they were seen as true defenders of Orthodox Christianity. The idea of science was an integral part of this achievement. (shrink)
Ekphrasis is familiar as a rhetorical tool for inducing enargeia, the vivid sense that a reader or listener is actually in the presence of the objects described. This book focuses on the ekphrastic techniques used in ancient Greek and Roman literature to describe technological artifacts. Since the literary discourse on technology extended beyond technical texts, this book explores 'technical ekphrasis' in a wide range of genres, including history, poetry, and philosophy as well as mechanical, scientific, and mathematical works. Technical authors (...) like Philo of Byzantium, Vitruvius, Hero of Alexandria, and Claudius Ptolemy are put into dialogue with close contemporaries in other genres, like Diodorus Siculus, Cicero, Ovid, and Aelius Theon. The treatment of 'technical ekphrasis' here covers the techniques of description, the interaction of verbal and visual elements, the role of instructions, and the balance between describing the artifact's material qualities and the other bodies of knowledge it evokes. (shrink)
Otto Neugebauer’s early academic career was marked by a series of transitions. His interests shifted from physics to mathematics, and finally to the history of ancient mathematics and exact sciences. Yet even from his early years in Graz, Neugebauer was strongly attracted to the mathematical culture of Göttingen. When he arrived there in 1922, he quickly established a strong personal friendship with Richard Courant, the newly appointed Director of the Mathematics Institute. Neugebauer and Courant worked together closely up until 1933, (...) when the Nazi government decimated the Göttingen scientific community. In this essay, Neugebauer’s historical work and his vision for a new approach to the study of the exact sciences are viewed through the prism of these events. By so doing, one can easily appreciate how Neugebauer’s scholarship reflects the ideals he and Courant shared as leading representatives of the Göttingen mathematical tradition. (shrink)
This book examines the origins of ancient Greek science using the vehicles of blood, blood vessels, and the heart. Careful attention to biomedical writers in the ancient world, as well as to the philosophical and literary work of writers prior to the Hippocratic authors, produce an interesting story of how science progressed and the critical context in which important methodological questions were addressed. The end result is an account that arises from debates that are engaged in and "solved" by different (...) writers. These stopping points form the foundation for Harvey and for modern philosophy of biology. Author Michael Boylan sets out the history of science as well as a critical evaluation based upon principles in the contemporary canon of the philosophy of science--particularly those dealing with the philosophy of biology. (shrink)
In this introduction, I motivate the project of examining certain resonances between ancient skeptical positions, especially Pyrrhonism, and positions in contemporary epistemology, with special attention to recent work in the epistemology of science. One such resonance concerns the idea of suspension of judgment or belief in certain contexts or domains of inquiry, and the reasons for (or processes eventuating in) suspension. Another concerns the question of whether suspension of belief in such circumstances is voluntary, in any of the senses discussed (...) in current work on voluntarism in epistemology, which informs recent discussions of how voluntarism regarding epistemic stances may shed light on positions like scientific realism and antirealism. The aim of this special issue is thus to explore certain analogies and disanalogies between ancient and contemporary debates about skepticism, and to consider whether and to what extent the former can provide insight into the latter. (shrink)
The story of the beliefs and practices called 'magic' starts in ancient Iran, Greece, and Rome, before entering its crucial Christian phase in the Middle Ages. Centering on the Renaissance and Marsilio Ficino - whose work on magic was the most influential account written in premodern times - this groundbreaking book treats magic as a classical tradition with foundations that were distinctly philosophical. Besides Ficino, the premodern story of magic also features Plotinus, Iamblichus, Proclus, Aquinas, Agrippa, Pomponazzi, Porta, Bruno, Campanella, (...) Descartes, Boyle, Leibniz, and Newton, to name only a few of the prominent thinkers discussed in this book. Because pictures play a key role in the story of magic, this book is richly illustrated. (shrink)
This is the first of three parts of an introduction to the philosophy of climate science. In this first part about observing climate change, the topics of definitions of climate and climate change, data sets and data models, detection of climate change, and attribution of climate change will be discussed.
This is the second of three parts of an introduction to the philosophy of climate science. In this second part about modelling climate change, the topics of climate modelling, confirmation of climate models, the limits of climate projections, uncertainty and finally model ensembles will be discussed.
What did the Romans know about their world? Quite a lot, as Daryn Lehoux makes clear in this fascinating and much-needed contribution to the history and philosophy of ancient science. Lehoux contends that even though many of the Romans’ views about the natural world have no place in modern science—the umbrella-footed monsters and dog-headed people that roamed the earth and the stars that foretold human destinies—their claims turn out not to be so radically different from our own. Lehoux draws upon (...) a wide range of sources from what is unquestionably the most prolific period of ancient science, from the first century BC to the second century AD. He begins with Cicero’s theologico-philosophical trilogy _On the Nature of the Gods_, _On Divination_, and _On Fate_, illustrating how Cicero’s engagement with nature is closely related to his concerns in politics, religion, and law. Lehoux then guides readers through highly technical works by Galen and Ptolemy, as well as the more philosophically oriented physics and cosmologies of Lucretius, Plutarch, and Seneca, all the while exploring the complex interrelationships between the objects of scientific inquiry and the norms, processes, and structures of that inquiry. This includes not only the tools and methods the Romans used to investigate nature, but also the Romans’ cultural, intellectual, political, and religious perspectives. Lehoux concludes by sketching a methodology that uses the historical material he has carefully explained to directly engage the philosophical questions of incommensurability, realism, and relativism. By situating Roman arguments about the natural world in their larger philosophical, political, and rhetorical contexts, _What Did the Romans Know?_ demonstrates that the Romans had sophisticated and novel approaches to nature, approaches that were empirically rigorous, philosophically rich, and epistemologically complex. (shrink)