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CLA203 Nov 21.docx

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Jonathan Tracy

CLA203 Thursday, November 21, 2013 Seneca -just because we can’t see the comets doesn’t mean they don’t behave like the other planetary bodies that can be seen with the naked eye (Mars, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter) -very hard to get data about comets -Seneca lives for these difficult mysteries of the universe -faith in progress -wishes he could have devoted his entire life to the study of nature -must get rid of our vices and devote more time to study -there will come a time when our descendants will be astonished that we did not know such facts -true, our modern society -bright, child-like wonder with the idea of the future of progress for humanity -with Lucretius we have already achieved what we need to that ends with Epicurus (Epicurus has answered all the questions on nature) -Epicurus=the last word in human progress -no sense of ambition, can basically just relax because the mysteries have been uncovered by Epicurus -Kepler inspired by Seneca -if you approach a temple you don’t believe to approach it at first with all the answers, it is the same when approaching the topic of the celestial bodies -God did not make the entire universe just for humans, he has only entrusted a small portion to us -mystery religionmust jump through many hoops to be initiated, and come with the most profound experience known during ancient times, also keep all the secrets of the religion -Suetonius and Dio on Nero -pursuing feminine luxury with his clothing -appeal to Nero (Book 6 and 7) -Book 6 many examples of flattery towards Nero -veiled guises of criticisms of the vices Nero is hanging onto -Seneca was right Pliny the Elder -23-79 CE -less worshipful in his approach to science -prominent equestrian -distinguished career in imperial admin -practical hands on kind of guy -ended up in command of the imperial fleet at Misenum by Vesuvius Natural History: -37 books on astronomy, geography, zoology, botany, medicine, ecology, etc. -dominantly influential during the medieval period in Europe -little effort to synthesize the vast array of data in the various entries into one coherent theory -little effort to apply critical, sceptical judgement to many of the more fantastic facts that Pliny reports -believes very passionately in the value of human enlightenment -liberating human race through science rom superstition and ignorance (a virtue of his) -the sun is greatest of size and power -centre of the universe -the heart and mind of the universe -admires the people who have explained the causes of eclipses so as to free our minds of fear -wants to get rid of peoples fear of nature and make them admire it instead -Nicias, Athenian commander during siege of Syracuse, who was superstitious about eclipses and refused to sail the fleet out of the labour thus destroying the greatness of the Athenians -they lost the battle -doesn’t believe in Astrology -rejection of dogmatism (another virtue of his) -agrees with Lucretius in rejecting extreme determinism (astrology, fortune), and in the rejection of the soul -insists on divine providence towards the human race (like Seneca) -not in orthodox Stoic fashion -nature has been kind to us and in turn we harm nature, we have the power to do so -Earth is a servant to man’s needs, productive when compelled to be (Natural History) -Earth has grown poisons for us out of pity for us when we have tired of life, which effortlessly deprive ourselves of life without physical injury or loss of blood
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