Museum of Alexandria and the institutionalization of knowledge.
II. Roman Science
of Classical research which provided the beginnings of institutional science.
2. Emphasis placed
on scholarship and textual criticism.
3. Strong neo-platonic
bent (that is, more mystical interpretation of Plato)
4. Important scientific
synthesis of mathematical-observational astronomy.
development of algebra.
c. Galen: medical
thought, anatomy, physiology.
A. A rather superfical
record-keeping encyclopedic tradition (pliny, Seneca, Boethius, Varro,
III. Science in the Arabic World
B. A dilettantish approach
to Greek science among the elite, typified by handbooks dealing only with
the product of Greek inquiry; emphasis on rhetoric.
C. Lack of origional scientific-philosophic
D. Some translations to Latin
of Greek mathematics and Aristotelian metaphysics (Boethius).
E. Emphesis was on technology:
aquaducts, water wheel (Vitruvius), military applications, agriculture.
F. Apparently no conscious
decision to apply scientific thought and knowledge to social problems accompanied
Science: intelligent continuation of the Greek model.
Alexandrian science, tendancy was toward Aristotle.
of Greek Science.
2. Major efforts:
medicine, mathematics, and astronomy, refinement of uses of algebra.
3. Major contribution
of Arabs was transmission of Aristotelian corpus to Christian West.
Before 900 A.D., basically a period of translating activity rather than
School at Jundishapur, founded 428 by Christians; originally a medical
school; in the sixth century became a center for translation of Greek works.
Hunayn ibn Ishaq (c. 850): translations of Galen, Ptolemy's astronomy,
Euclid's geometry, other technical treatises.
Major Islamic interest was algebra, with some trigonometry and geometry.
Used Babylonian and Greek sources, especially Diophantus and Euclid.
6th c. Hindu mathematical sources: Suddhanta, Aryabbata; "Arabic" numerals
were introduced from India.
al-Khwarizmi (early 9th c.): began process of algebraization (al-jabr),
introduced Indian mathematics to Arabic world.
Observatory at Baghdad established 9th c. (Thabit ibn Quarra).
Astronomical observations carried out at Samarkand; astronomical tables
Moorish Spain was also a center of astronomical studies.
Islam elaborated and revised Ptolemaic astronomy and compiled new astronomical
tables. Astrology was closely tied to astronomy, alchemy to astrological-astronomical
Al-Razi (Rhazes), ca. 900: comprehensive medical treatises.
Avicenna: Canon on medicine. Commentaries on Aristotle and Plato.
Al-Jabir (Geber), late 8th-early 9th c.: medical works and alchemy.
Ibn Nafis (13th c.): Could not find Galen's septa in the heart and proposed
another scheme for circulation of the blood.
Alchemy was also connected to medicine.
Islam took over the alchemical tradition from the laboratories at Alexandria.
Hermes Trismegistes: supposed author of a body of mystical-alchemical writings,
identified with the Egyptian god Mercury (Hermes; Thoth; Moses); gave rise
to the Hermetic tradition in alchemy.
The mystical philosophy of "all is one" led to attempts to transmute one
substance to another, especially to gold; also the four-element theory
of the Greeks allowed for the transformation of one element to another,
or differing combinations of the elements.
Alchemy also represents a philosophic search for interrelatedness, unity,
Medieval, and Renaissance Technology
Idea of an elixer, a magical medicine that would cure anything and everything.
The period from 900-1100 was one of writing commentaries with little original
thought, as compared to the earlier period which emphasized translation
alone; Averroes (12th c.) the Commentator on Aristotle, added neo-Platonic
elements to Aristotelian thought; but in general Arabic sciences tended
to concentrate on aspects of Greek learning that were of practical value,
especially mathematics, astronomy, medicine.
development remained largely independent of science until the l9th century.
Scholasticism & Medieval Universities
Developed at a much earlier date than the philosophical speculation of
the classical world.
Technology: The Question of Power.
Broad scope of technological development involving increasingly sophisticated
processes; for example, metallurgical art for tools, weapons, and objects
Generated an artisian-craftsman class which would not come to any semblance
of power until the late middle ages.
Greek approach: mechanistic inventions were not connected as a power source;
technological speculation was not directed to practical applications, for
example, Hero of Alexandria's "toy" steam engine.
Technology: The Feudal-Manorial System.
Roman approach: practicallity becomes the dominate factor in attempts to
devise new power sources. This new approach would continue into the Christian
West with certain social, religious, and technical developments which,
it is argued, brought about the Renaissance search for power through technology.
Period of innovation extending from 6th-9th centuries with general application
1 1 th- 1 2th centuries.
Technology: The Search for Power.
Agricultural innovations: iron plough, 3-field rotational system, harnessed
Attitude change occasioned by technological innovation and Christian theology.
Military innovations: use of the horse, hardened iron, stirrups, etc.
Development of a manipulative and dominating attitude toward nature with
respect given to the ethic of hard work.
Monastic combination of the ideal of meditation and labor, for example,
the Benedictine rule.
Renewed appreciation of and search for mechanical power.
Greater diversification of approaches to and control of the natural world,
for example, clock mechanisms, printing, and resulting psychological changes.
Until the 12th century, medieval philosophy was basically neo-Platonic,
loosely reconciled with Christian theology.
Patristic doctrines of late Roman period: Tertullian, St. Augustine; philosophy
regarded as subservient to theology.
During the 12th century Aristotle's natural philosophy was transmitted
from the Islamic World.
Boethius (late 5th to early 6th c.): translations and commentaries on Aristotle's
logical works; ConsolationofPhilosophy.
Spain became a center of translation from Arabic to Latin, especially at
Toledo by Gerard of Cremona.
The problem of Universals: Do abstract qualities or essences associated
with groups of individuals have existence outside of material things? Rosellinus
(Roscelin), early 12th c.; William of Champeaux, early 12th c.; Peter Abelard,
Aristotle was incorporated into the medieval philosophical-theological
tradition, especially in the writings of Thomas Aquinas.
William of Occam (early 14th c.): Nominalism: only individual, material
objects can be known; the mind cannot abstract essences from a material
thing. There is no such thing as a Universal: the essential tenet of Nominalism.
The Scholastic tradition.
Characterized by logical debates and presentations, using a method of contrast,
similar to that established by Abelard's Sic et Non.
Based largely on Aristotle.
A very structured, logical, textual approach to questions of natural philosophy,
rather than an approach to Nature itself.
The Universities grew out of the late 11th century.
Church organization of the medieval universities (Aristotle; Christian
theology; Latin discourse; uniform curriculum) provided a high degree of
standardization and allowed mobility from one university to another for
teachers and students.
'Undergraduate' curriculum centered on the Seven Liberal Arts.
Trivium (verbal): grammar, rhetoric, logic.
The Universities originated as professional training centers.
Quadrivium (mathematical): arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music.
Logic and natural philosophy were Aristotelian, geometry was Euclidian,
astronomy was Ptolemaic (or simplified by Sacrobosco)
Salerno (the first university): Medicine.
Paris (arose from the cathedral school): Theology.
Oxford (especially Merton College): Mathematics.
Oxford and Paris became the leading European universities.
science of motion is the core of medieval physical thought.
Worked within the classical framework of a logical qualitative approach
to mechanical problems, especially the approach suggested by Aristotle.
dynamics and Impetus theory.
Sought to clarify the formulation of problems surrounding motion such that
questions could be posed and answered.
Primarily a logical exercise in mechanics with little empirical investigation.
Argument by analogy from theology and philosophy.
Weak point of Aristotelian science was its discussion of motion, for example,
the necessity of a constant, external agent to account for motion.
11th to 13th Centuries.
Medieval discussion of dynamics centered on this problem of the cause of
motion and its expression in terms of impetus.
Confined to translation of, and commentaries on, Aristotelian works.
Most of Aristotle's physical concepts accepted without serious criticism.
Thomas Aquinas baptized Aristotelian cosmology into Christian framework.
Critical approach to Aristotle.
and Medieval Physics.
Preoccupied with logic of terms and propositions, that is:
What does Aristotle mean when he says that the velocity of a moving object
is directly proportional to the force and inversely proportional to the
Debated idea of matter and form. Questions include:
Is this law or proposition logically
Does Aristotle's forms (or essences) have existence independent of the
Nominalists, against Aristotelians and Platonists, argued in the negative.
Forms are only a product of the imagination.
Is the intention and remission of forms (the change in intensity of such
qualities as heat, motion, faith, goodness, etc. ) a fluent form of a flux
Above position has been interpreted as the shift from the idea that science
should look for the 'nature' of things (that is, essence) to the idea that
science is a discipline whereby one talks or writes about natural phenomena
more accurately (that is, the linguistic study of scientific propositions
to determine their logical validity).
Notice that motion is thought of as a quality.
Flux of forms = idea of change as a series of states.
idea of change as a state in its own right.
Scholastic preoccupation with terms led to classification of physics into
kinematics and dynamics.
Kinematics: descriptive (quantitative) account of motion apart from its
Dynamics and the concept of Impetus: Jean Buridan.
Dynamics: causal (qualitative) account of motion.
Aristotle's Physics stated that a continuous
external agent was
required. (All motion requires a mover.)
Buridan argued that motion could be better explained by the idea of an
original impetus imparted on a projectile.
Idea similar to that of John Philoponus (600 A.D.).
Buridan further speculated that God may have impressed an original impetus
on the celestial spheres which, once imparted, kept the spheres in continuous
motion since there is no resistence in the heavens to sap the strength
of the originally imparted impetus.
Impetus, once imparted on a projectile, keeps it in motion.
Decrease in acceleration explained by decrease of strength of impetus owing
to resistence of the medium.
Is concept of impetus similar to modern concept of inertia?
Possible implications of Buridan's speculations:
Would make unnecessary the supposition that the celestial bodies were made
of a special element (that is, Aristotle's quintessence or fifth element)
which could move only with circular motion.
Could rid heavens of the spirits and intelligences which Aristotle introduced
to account for the sphere's movements. (More mechanical view of the universe?)
Made less distinct the Aristotelian dichotomy between terrestrial and celestial
physics. Motion on earth and heavens could be accounted for by the same
Celestial: impetus + no resistance = uniform continuous motion. (However,
does not explain circular motion.)
Terrestrial: impetus + resistance accounts for acceleration and deceleration
of motion on earth.
Attempted clarification of concepts of velocity, resistance, etc.
Classification of different kinds of motion.
Debate concerning motion as a flux of forms or as a fluent form.
Diform motion (accelerated motion).
Uniform diform motion (uniformly accelerated motion).
Diform diform motion (nonuniform accelerated motion).
Occam (Ockham): motion is a flux of forms (series of states).
Consideration of motion as a state in itself rather than a series of integral
states made possible speculation on the relations between various
factors involved in motion. Whereas Aristotle had preferred to compare
speeds to speeds, forces to forces, and resistances to resistances, scholastics
like Buridan, Thomas Bradwardine, and Nicole Oresme attempted to make explicit
statements on the relationship between all of these factors.
Others argued that motion was a fluent form (that is, a state).
what seems to be one of the earliest efforts to use algebraic functions
to describe motion; to show how the dependent variable, v (velocity) was
related to the two independent variables: f (force) and r (resistance).
Although the function he came up with was incorrect, Bradwardine had formulated
the Aristotelian 'law of motion'
metrically as a function so that
it could be quantitatively refuted.
Discussion of motion by scholastics was part of much more general debate
(the intension and remission of forms).
the problem of accelerated motion (and variation of other 'qualities')
by graphic constructions. Treatment of kinematic problems (as with Bradwardine)
were posed as imaginary possibilities for theoretical analysis and without
Essentially logical exercises.
No application of theories to practical situations.
Could not break out of Aristotelian framework.
of Classical Conceptions of the Heavens.
Aristotelian system: provided a spherical, physical model compatible with
Approach to Astronomy.
Earth conceived as a material point at center of concentric, quintessential
Ptolemaic view: provided a nonobservational, mathematical model which would
'save the phenomena' or 'save the appearances'.
Idea of quintessential spheres was later replaced by common concept of
solid, transparent crystalline spheres.
Superimposed spheres account for perfect, circular motion.
The mathematical treatment of Ptolemy gave a better description than the
Ptolemaic system was used by professional, mathematical astronomers rather
than the Aristotelian, cosmological model.
Popularization and extension of the Ptolemaic, computational tables coupled
with an attempt to refine Ptolemy.
Aristotelian metaphysical approach was combined with Christian theology
which gave the medieval world a comprehensive cosmological picture, for
example, Aquinas and Dante.
Revival of a mystical, Platonic approach in the 15th century.
Platonic-Pythagorean doctrines of order, harmony, simplicity, balance,
proportion, etc. were more in conformity with Ptolemaic geometrical model
than Aristotelian cosmology.
Revival of Platonism in the late middle ages and Renaissance provided alternate
cosmological system for those thinkers dissatisfied with the inconsistencies
and precictive limitations of the Aristotelian cosmos.