The ancient Greeks traced the origin of many aspects of their
The upshot of this work has been to change the terms of the debate: the burden of proof is now on those who would deny that contact with neighboring civilizations contributed in a significant way to the Greeks’ distinctive cultural achievements. Yet it also raises a challenge to define more precisely the modalities of cultural influence, which have too often been conceived of as a matter of simple
First-order and second-order knowledge.
Modes of diffusion. I distinguish between diffusion through
My main argument is twofold: first, insofar as
Two preliminary points are crucial. First I do not claim that the Greeks invent-ed
With these points in mind I now turn to a brief examination of four related areas of
First, these Greek cosmologies offer a certain kind of explanation of the universe. They typically seek to reduce the diversity of observable phenomena to the interaction of a small number of factors, which behave in consistent ways in a wide variety of contexts. And they are “rational” in the sense that they are supported by explicit reasons and arguments. For example, Anaximenes explains all physical transformations by condensation and rarefaction, and offers evidence (the behavior of breath exhaled from the mouth) that heating and cooling can be reduced to those processes.
Second, early Greek cosmologies typically envision the large-scale structure of the universe in terms of geometrical models with a high degree of symmetry. For example, Anaximander conceives of the sun, moon and stars as apertures in a set of concentric rings, which are supposed to explain phenomena such as eclipses and the phases of the moon.
Finally, analogies with various crafts are an important source of both the particular explanations and the geometrical models characteristic of this tradition. Thus Anaximander’s cosmic rings are likened to wheels, while Anaximenes likens condensation and rarefaction to the production of felt from wool.
The earliest Greek cosmologies are an example of
That, of course, is precisely what the Greeks were doing. Yet it is surely no accident that this particular tradition in Greek thought begins in Miletus, at the heart of the cultural crossroads that was Asia Minor in the sixth century BCE. Through Parmenides’ critique in the early fifth century BCE Greek cosmological thought becomes second order, as explicit standards for the validity of cosmological accounts and arguments are developed and articulated. But this critique of course presupposes the existence of the earlier systems.
A distinctive achievement of early Greek
My main concern here is with the notion of mathematical proof as we find it in Euclid’s Elements, which developed between the beginning of the sixth and end of the fourth centuries BCE. Since we have almost no Greek mathematical texts from this period, any reconstruction of these developments is unavoidably speculative. What we can do is compare the Elements itself with the extraordinarily rich sources for Babylonian
The case of the
An additional factor may have been familiarity with some of the results of Babylonian
But we can also identify in the Hippocratic texts a concern with methodological reflection that is not present in the material from the neighboring cultures. In particular, the conception of medicine as a form of expertise (technê) that has a basis in explanatory theory is developed by some (though by no means all) of the Hippocratic writers. This development was a result of several interacting factors. The impulse toward highly reductive explanation that can be traced in early cosmological thought had its impact on medicine, as the cosmological theorists tended to speculate on the construction of the human body or the
Mathematical modeling of planetary phenomena with the goal of exact prediction arose first in Babylon, and reached the pinnacle of its development during the Seleucid period Neugebauer 1957. Instead of constructing geometrical models of the cosmos, the Babylonians used combinations of
The spread of these Babylonian methods across the Greek-speaking Hellenistic world is the most well-documented and extensive case of the transmission of scientific knowledge in the ancient Mediterranean world. That Hipparchus in the second century BCE and Ptolemy in the second century CE used Babylonian parameters in constructing their geometrical models has long been recognized. But it is not just a question of adopting Babylonian parameters: Babylonian methods also spread across the Greek-speaking world to an extent that has only recently become clear Swerdlow 1998. Not only Hipparchus himself, but also pre-Ptolemaic writers such as Hypsicles and Geminus make use of Babylonian methods, often without drawing attention to their provenance Evans 1998; Berggren and Evans 2006. A number of papyri from Greco-Roman Egypt indicate that
I hope that this survey, however brief and speculative, has at least succeeded in showing the usefulness of the concepts I have introduced for understanding the impact of Egypt and the Near East on the development of
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Table of Contents
1 The Globalization of Knowledge in History: An Introduction
Jürgen Renn, Malcolm D. Hyman
2 Knowledge and Science in Current Discussions of Globalization
Helge Wendt, Jürgen Renn
PART 1: From Technology Transfer to the Origins of Science
3 Survey: From Technology Transfer to the Origins of Science
Malcolm D. Hyman, Jürgen Renn
4 Technological Transfer and Innovation in Ancient Eurasia
Daniel T. Potts
6 The Origins of Writing and Arithmetic
8 The Creation of Second-Order Knowledge in Ancient Greek Science as a Process in the Globalization of Knowledge
PART 2: Knowledge as a Fellow Traveler
9 Survey: Knowledge as a Fellow Traveler
10 The Spread of Buddhism as Globalization of Knowledge
12 Normative Islam and Global Scientific Knowledge
13 From Khwarazm to Cordoba: The Propagation of Non-Religious Knowledge in the Islamic Empire
14 The Sciences in Europe: Transmitting Centers and the Appropriating Peripheries
Manolis Patiniotis, Kostas Gavroglu
PART 3: The Place of Local Knowledge in the Global Community
16 Survey: The Place of Local Knowledge in the Global Community
18 The Introduction of the European University System in Brazil
Oscar Abdounur, Adriana Cesar de Mattos
19 Celestial Navigation and Technological Change on Moce Island
Jarita C. Holbrook
21 On Juridico-Political Foundations of Meta-Codes
23 The Transformations of Knowledge Through Cultural Interactions in Brazil: The Case of the Tupinikim and the Guarani
Circe Mary Silva da Silva, Ligia Arantes Sad
PART 4: The Globalization of Modern Science
24 Survey: The Globalization of Modern Science
Jürgen Renn, Malcolm D. Hyman
25 The University of the 21st Century: An Aspect of Globalization
26 The Soviet Psychologists and the Path to International Psychology
27 The Global Diffusion of Nuclear Technology
28 The Role of Open and Global Communication in Particle Physics
Hans Falk Hoffmann
29 Internationalism and the History of Molecular Biology
30 The Role of Chemistry in the Global Energy Challenge
31 Climate Change as a Global Challenge – and its Implications for Knowledge Generation and Dissemination
Daniel Klingenfeld, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber
32 Toward an Epistemic Web
Malcolm D. Hyman, Jürgen Renn
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