‘Ancient episteme’ and the nature of fossils: a correction of a modern scholarly error


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Beginning the nineteenth-century and continuing down to the present, many authors writing on the history of geology and paleontology have attributed the theory that fossils were inorganic formations produced within the earth, rather than by the deposition of living organisms, to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Some have even gone so far as to claim this was the consensus view in the classical period up through the Middle Ages. In fact, such a notion was entirely foreign to ancient and medieval thought and only appeared within the manifold of ‘Renaissance episteme,’ the characteristics of which have often been projected backwards by some historians onto earlier periods. This paper endeavors to correct this error, explain the development of the Renaissance view, describe certain ancient precedents thereof, and trace the history of the misinterpretation in the literature.
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DOI 10.1007/s40656-015-0094-6
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Principles of Geology.Charles Lyell & G. L. Herrier Davies - 1994 - Annals of Science 51 (1):100.

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