Ancient Science – Final Exam Review
Lecture 2 : Introduction
- What is ancient Science? Trying to understand the natural world, based on observation
- Role of human values in Science: values effect the funding (or the ability to conduct research), as
without funding to specific fields, science cannot be conducted.
- The Progressivist model
o In the beginning there was myth, non-scientific methods of explanation. then ccame
science, which accumulates and grows closer and closer to the truth.
o Kuhn’s model of progressivist science
Normal Science: day to day science, nothing radical or ground breaking (effort is
input and papers are output)
Anomalies: something odd happens that makes you question the normal
Crisis: everything you know is proven wrong and there is no stability in the field
Revolution: the crisis is understood, and the new method becomes normal
science (the cycle begins again)
o EX Oxygen VS Phlogiston
Phlogiston: a concept that was thought to explain burning, respiration and
Oxygen: a concept that was thought to explain burning, respiration, acid, caloric
heat and most of the other anomalies that the phlogiston theory had.
We gave up a theory that worked in favor for a theory that explained more
phenomena but contained falsities, we slowly build a better system by
o The new system may not explain everything the previous theory could, but it builds on
what we had.
- “because of the near perfect accuracy at which science has managed to arrive, I think we should
reckon the things it has discovered – wondrous, were there from complete ignorance – as
having been rightly and truly uncovered, and not the product of accident” Hippocrates 4 c. BC
Lecture 3: Pre-Socratics
- The universe was originally explained by mythology , but after a while we demanded that our
universe be explained by natural means
- Philosophy, human values and sciences were intertwined
- Pre-Socratics: those who came before Socratics
o We do not have complete philosophical texts , only fragments and quotations.
o Thales and Aristotle were the most prolific
o Aristotle (320 BC) : most of the earliest philosphers thought that the principles (the
begininngs) of all things were material. they would say that the element and the
principle of all things is one substance, a entity that substance remains the same but its attributes change, they believed that nothing was created or destroyed since nature
Rule number one in greek philosophy : nothing comes from nothing
o Thales (600 BC): the founder of this kind of philosophy, says that the principle is water,
which is why he said the earth rests on water, food is moist, and heat is generated and
lives on moisture. The seeds of everything have a moist nature, and water is principle of
o Nearly 300 years between Thales and Aristotle.
o Anaximander (580 BC): the unlimited is the first principle, motion and change is eternal
and caused by the separation of opposites (hot/cold , wet/dry, etc. ). The earth rests in
the middle of the cosmos as it has no reason to go in any direction.
o Anaximenes: (540 BC): says that air is the first principle of all things, infinite in quantity
but defined by its condensation or rarefaction. Motion also exists from eternity and by
compression of the air the earth is formed. The earth rests on air and the sun and the
moon rest on the stars which is made from earth. Believe that the earth exhales and
that product is what goes into the cosmos to form the stars. Believes in four elements
plus a few other odds and ends
o Reductionism: a finite set of principles or elements that compose the universe.
o Monoism: the universe breaks down into one single component.
o Pythagoreans: a group of people who give us some of the earliest mathematical
knowledge. They are interested in math because they think it is theology. They believe
that the universe is made up by numbers and the gods are numbers and that is divine, if
they can understand math, they can understand the gods
o Parmenides: Nasty old man who is credited for a theory about change, often compares
things to fire “you cannot step in the same river twice”
o Democritus: proposed that the universe is made up of atoms and voids. They are very
different than the atoms we know today. He still had ideas about divinity.
o Anaxagoras :
o Empedocles: first to reduce the earth to the four main elements (earth, water, air and
fire) and motion and change are all caused by love (brings things together) or strike
(keeps things apart)
Lecture 4: Hippocratic medicine
- Every medical text from 400 to 150 BC comes down to use what Hippocrates developed.
- His students used his name on their writngs in this fields since all their knowledge was based on
- Humoral Theories: the four humours of man are the nature of man, but some texts state there
are more or less humours, very little consistency within Hippocratic medicine.
- Regimen: what do you eat, how much activity do you have, how often do you bathe, do you
bathe before or after eating, activity, sex, do you drink too much or too little - Location is very important. Do you live down in a swamp or up on the mountain, what direction
is the city you live in facing, where does your water come from.
- Qualities of the humors : hot/cold , wet/dry
- Bodily structures and ailments are imbalances of the humors and their qualities.
o Wandering womb: young pregnancy is required to maintain the moisture of the womb
(naturally a dry structure). If it does not remain moist via pregnancy, it will press up
against the liver to attempt to draw moisture out. Widespread bodily disorder.
- Humoral theories incorporate theories of regimen, qualities and bodily structures.
- Hippocrates: The nature of man
o The person he is arguing with may be saying that all entities are made up by one single
o Man is composed of blood, other of bile, and some of phlegm, if man were only one
substance he would never feel pain, since being one there would be nothing to hurt.
- Compare to Parmenide : What is one?
o All change and existence would not be possible if man were only composed of one
- Hippocrates: Nature of man
o We need two individuals to generate a third
o Hot, dry, cold and wet. People cannot be one thing because we need these for qualities
o Human body contains blood, phlegm, yellow and black bile. These cause pain and
health, as any imbalance will cause pain and balance will cause health.
- Hippocrates: Regimen for Health
o In the winter (cold and wet), eat the most and drink the last. Dry food, and strong
undiluted wine, use as few vegetables as possible
o In the summer (hot and dry), eat the least and drink the most. Moist foods and diluted
wines, eat as many vegetables as possible
o Allopathic Medicine: give you something opposite to what is causing the aliment.
(dislike combats dislike)
o Homeopathic Medicine: extremely dilute soltuions of what causes the aliment ( like
o Regimen Vs Climate : some diseases are caused by the persons actions and some are
caused by the natural world.
o Venescetion: letting blood in certain areas will cause pain relief in other areas ( pain in
back or loin, let blood from the hollow of the knee or the ankle)
o There is no mention of the heart in the bloodletting ideology. But there is a connection
between anatomy and medical treatment, as the location of vessels are empirically
determined via palpation but no internal anatomy is used to determine this.
- Hippocrates : Epidemics, Case X
o A person, who lived by the well in a city, was seized with fever. Locations of pains are
noted , deafness is also present, no sleep, hypochondria elevated with a sweeling but
not much distention, tongue dry. o Critical days play an important role here, noting when certain symptoms occur or end.
- Hippocrates : Aphorisms
o The fourth day in each period of seven days is indicative. Critical days are explained in
o Gives a timeline for physicians to keep track of the state of the patient.
o Greeks use inclusive counting.
o The universe is rational and explainable as a whole, first person to bring mathematics
into science and mathematizes nature.
o Math explains origins, structures, soul, harmony and rationality
o Form = what all things have in common that makes them things, the form of an object is
eternal and perfect. But the actual object has flaws and will decay over time
o The creator is good and free of jealously, he wanted earth to be like himself
o Where fore also finding the whole visible sphere not at rest, but moving in an irregular
and disorderly fashion, out of the disorder he brought order, considering that this was in
every way better than the other.
The creator was not jealous of the mess and disorder and he hoped they would
be more like him so he created the universe.
o The language of probability: using things that are possible in this realm.
o Nothing is visible when there is no fire, or tangible which has no solidity, and nothing is
solid without earth, a general observation, appeals to our experience
o But two things cannot be rightly put together without a third; there must be some bind
of union between them “Earth and Fire”.
o Proportion ( mathematical) is always key. Earth and fire require a third thing to put
them into proportion and create the universe
o A surface only … a single mean would have sufficed… “water and air must be in between
earth and fire, and not a single element as we live in a world with “surface and depth”
8 is to 16, as 16 is to 32. Fire is to air, as water is to earth
8:16 =16:32 = 32:64 or fire:air = air:water = water:earth
o Creation of the planets: moon sun, Venus, mercury and the rest
o People learn numbers by seeing their regularity
o Four areas for life: heavens, air, seas in which dwell gods who create birds, animals and
humans , fish.
- Geometrical Atomism : Plato’s theory
o Matter must be made of particles which have predetermined shapes.
o The physical properties of these particles will determine the physical properties of the
universe. - An explanation puts an end to a chain of questions. There are two types of explanations: top
down (deduction) and bottom up (induction)
- Plato is very much a deductionist, but there are time when he induces things aswell.
- Aristotle is a inductionist, but there are times when he will deduce things aswell.
- Aristotle will spend most of his career writing what we call science: Physics, Taxonomy,
inheritance theory, cosmology, meterology, psychology, anatomy, biology, etc.
- Aristotle’s Physics
o Nature is a source or cause of being moved and of being at rest in that to which it
belongs primarily, in virture of itself and not accidentally.
o Motion is the change of place, size, quality, form or substance
o Antiphon has a proof that shows the object is simply a reorganization of the parts.
o Causes: in greek means the guilty party, early science in infected with legal terminology.
o The Four Causes need ed for a full explaination
1) What is it composed of? (Material Cause)
2) what is it shaped like, what way are the things put together (Formal Cause)
3) what is the primary source of change, what caused the object to become
what it is. (Efficient Cause)
4) what is the purpose of thing, what was the sake of doing it (Final Cause)
o The “What”ness (causes 1 and 2), and the causes of change (causes 3 and 4)
o Sometimes the “what”ness can be answered by the final cause, sometimes the final
cause can change if it no longer serves its original purpose.
- Change: originally conceptualized as “is not is “ or “x from not-x”. but aristotle believed that
it was the change from the potential to the actual. Acorns have the potential to be an oak tree,
firewood as the potential to burn and create fire.
- Form and Matter: matter itself has no properties apart from its form, and matter cannot exist
- Nature: a source or cause of being moved and of being at rest in that to which it belongs
primarily, in virtue of itself and not accidentally. The nature of a thing is its tendency to change,
or in other words to actualize its potential. And this nature is interal to the thing itself and
- Motion: two forms , circular and linear. Fire and air go out from the center of the earth and
earth and water go towards the center. A fifth element is added , ether, to create circular
motion. This helps to stir up the cosmos
- The element are mapped to the four qualities aswell
o Air: Hot and Wet
o Fire: Hot and Dry
o Water: Wet and Cold
o Earth: Dry and Cold - Everything below the moon is made up of the traditional elements and everything beyond that
is made up of ether and will never change. Comets are changing rapidly because they occur
between the moon and the earth
- Artifical Motion: any motion unnaturally imposed must have a cause at every moment. At first
someone may push a block (initial cause) at this time the block is pushing the air in front of it
(chain reaction). The air that was pushed will move air all around the block until the air pushes
on the back of the block again (positive feedback)
- Prime Mover: causes the motion of the stars eternally which move the four elements and
prevents them from settling. The prime mover moves the stars “as if by love”.
- The Aristotelian Corpus
o Logic (6 books), Metaphysics (1 book), Ethics/Politics (3 books), Rhetioric and poetics
(2/3 books), Natural Philosophy (17 books) includes books on physics, psychology and
- The History of Animals:
o taxonomy, pick some characteristics and group species together accordingly, this can be
taken as either just nomenclature or it can trace genetic relationships
o Furnished = to have. Some are furnished with feet, some with wings, some creep and
some wiggle. Begins to differentiate species based on traits possessed.
o Very close to realizing evolution. States that seals have imperfect feet ( possibly under
evolved or vestigial)
o Uses locomotion and social behavior as taxonomic groups
o Creatures can abide by laws of nature ( EX no bird with crooked talons will be
o They go on to focus on what characteristics of the animals overlap and what ones never
do? What characteristics are widespread and what are unique to one group.
o Groups are catergorized using genus and species, but these are relative terms for one
name being more general and one name being more specific.
o The universe has an inherent logic to it and nothing happens absolutely randomly.
- Aristotle, parts of animals
o Some things are eternal (stars in the sky) and others are subject to generation and decay
(everything on earth)
o we have a better understanding of terrestrial things are we are able to observe them
much more closely
- Aristotle Parts of Animals
o Looking at animals, he wonders how the parts make up the animal and how they came
to be. o You need to know how and why something was created, what its purpose is and what
shape they are to fully explain them.
o Animals and plants have souls (consciousness), when they are alive
o The idea that things with souls will think, acts, move, grow or have emotions.
o Soul and nature of an animal are equated to the same thing
- Aristotle, The Generation of Animals
o Male + female = offspring
o Male contains the efficient causes of generation and females contain the material cause
o Male = one who generates within another and Female = one who generates within
themselves. Since males and females have different origins and roles, they must have
different parts. Men and women are the same except for these parts.
o observed phenomena is that two animals mate and the females generates within itself
baby animals. The male provides the seed, but what does the female provide?
o Seed is produced from the entire body
Sex is intensely pleasurable, so it must involve the whole body.
Mutation are inherited, since the parents are dificent in that portion of the
body, they cannot pass it along to children
The resemblance to parents, the young are born like them part for part, non-
resemblance gets attributed to mechanical problems in the womb during
o Semen is made up of a tiny little animal contained within the seed
o The competition between male and femal seed attributes the variation in offspring
The male’s traits are the dominant traits and will shape the child final
appearance unless the females traits outcompete ( a mutation)
o Semen is the residue from nutrition. When you eat something the nutrition has the
potential to become any part of your body. When there is left over nutrition it become
semen, which then has the potential to become any part of your body in your child.
o Female seed is incompletely concocted( red blood), and male seed is completely
concocted(white semen) due to the males have a higher body temperature.
o Male vs female contributions to offspring
Females provide the material for the child but the males activate it.
Form vs matter
Soul vs body
- The invention of writing was technological deterministic ( technology causing change to human
- Oral tradition are very robust and can span generations - Babylonians and Egyptians had immense writing systems. While the greek adapted Phoenician
alphabet with 24 letters. Which made it much easier to read and write allowing a greater
proportion of society to contribute to science and culture
- Writing was invented by people who needed to keep track of sales and exchanges, with at least
4 independent developments (Egypt, Mesopotamia, China and Central America)
- Determinative give you the range of meaning that the word is meant to have as well as making
the script look prettier.
- The language itself does not determine its use, the culture that it is imbedded in will determine
the span of use.
- The evolution of writing
o A system for accounting was developed with clay, to make tokens that would represent
the number of items exchanged.
o They started to seal the tokens in an envelope of harden clay, which they would stamp
the contents of on the side.
o That progressed into a system where they would just draw the symbols on the clay
without having any physical token.
- Liver models: made out of clay during old Babylonian times, they would write on the tables
what happened in the world when the liver of a goat show specific symptoms as a learning text.
- Highly skilled individuals could predict very complex systems, the start of divination
- Babylonian Liver texts
o If … then… a process of inference that allow us to predict events in the future
o It is very highly structured, not just skilled observation but also they have committed to
tablets and ordered lists so that people later can consult with these lists and creates
systemization of this body of knowledge.
o Just looking at the liver – the section, the colors, the orientation from this they predict
political, military, religious and natural disasters. These are kingdom sized events that
are predicted – large political and cultural events.
o Over 10 000 individual predictions in the liver omen texts
o Expensive and difficult to produce as it requires the slaughtering of many sheep.
- There are many different forms of divination: how oil spots on the ground, how smoke rises, etc.
- They take these predictions very seriously and put a lot of resources into the prediction.
- Prognosis : signs of illness that doctor observes and says what will happen – a cause and effect –
but this cause and effect relationship doesn’t exist in the liver texts.
- Predictions for patients: the structure of divination
o Class of experts that handle difficult divination questions, they know they have power
and can answer your question. They have the experience to handle the prediction from
o He looks through the texts, and may or may not use that information to bring in his own
interpretation, based on his expertise that give him reliability. o Then the experts who observe and take the prediction see how it applies to the
- Namburbi- Apotropaic rituals
o Go to a diviner and ask why did this happen and what does it mean?
o For a price the diviner can turn the omen away and prevent the negatives from
o You can fix an omen by ritualistically destroying the sign of the omen, or destroying the
target of the omen to prevent real damage from occurring.
o Parpola Letter 25: there is a omen for the king dying so they come up with the idea of
making a peasant king for 100 days and then killing him afterwards, therefore the
ritualistic destruction of the “king” will protect the real king
- Astronomical Omen Series
o Collection of data into a systemization of text staring 1200 BC
o Somebody puts money into collecting all the omens and making a canonical collection of
all the omen series – these are canonical texts
o Astronomical divination in Babylon becomes the most sophisticated and mathematized.
o The signs themselves become predictable for astronomical omens as the phenomena
repeat themselves on a cycle. This is the invention of astronomy as they want to know
how the planets and stars move in order to predict the future omens
- Astronomical Diaries
o Day by day records of astronomical diarieas to track the acitivity of the sun, the moon
and the stars.
o 800 years of study culminates to a very robust understanding of the cosmos
o They developed a 360 degree system to measure movement in the sky, using tools to
measure how far things were away from each other.
o Direct motion= east to west, and retrograde motion= west to east
- Motions of the planets are regular but they do have a lot of nuances surrounding them.
o You need to know how fast the rotate on average (mean) &How fast it is changing speed
o But the Babylonians did not have calculus they only had simple functions
o They record the days of planetary station and record when it stops traveling direct ( first
station) and when it stops traveling retrograde (second station)
o For the moon they model the phases of the moon (when is it full or new) and when do
eclipses happen. Complexity to predict : full new Eclipse
o First and last appearances: when a planet passed too close to the sun, it would
disappear and reappear on the other side.
o - The sun does not have a constant speed throughout the course of the year. There are two
system they used for the measurement
o System A: we assume that the sun goes one speed, for one part of the year and another
speed for the other. This produces a step function. To determine rate of change you
need to look at the columns and read down then across.
o System B: one column will increase to a maximum, then decrease to a minimum over
and over. by reading the columns across then down we can produce a linear zig-zag
function that has more of a curve than system A
- Babylonian Astronomy is much more arithmetic than greek cosmology, which is very
- Our calendar has 365 days + 1 extra every 4 years expect when the year is divisible by 100 and
- Lunar calendars have the same number of days per month (roughly), 12 month lunar calendar =
355 days, making it just short of a year(hence why the Hebrew calendar has an extra month
every so often).
- Intercalation: adding a leap year into the calendear to correct for any alterations between your
calendar and the solar year.
- Lunar calendars often rely on observation.
- Babylonians had a 19 year cycle for calendar regulation as did the greeks ( menton and metonic
- Plato described the planets as moving in perfect circles. But does not say that we can predict
them, he just admires their beauty.
- Planets moving through the sky in different motions and having different stations are the
biggest problems to astronomers.
- Greek solution to the problem of perfect planets
o 1) if the sun looks like it is traveling faster in some sections, take the center of its
rotation and move it away from the center of the earth. This will cause it be pass closer
to the earth in some places and look faster. Eccentric (off-centered) model.
o 4 C Hipparchus came up with the epicycle on deferent model. Where the sun rotates
around the center of the earth, but small a smaller rotation around the end of the arm
that produces looping circles.
o Planetary model – Eudoxus of Caius
Took a sphere of the entire cosmos and pinned smaller spheres within it ( 3 total
spheres). This allows us to spin the spheres to produce forward and retrograde
motion, predictable cycles and varying speeds.
But this is totally wrong and only popular because it is so elegant.
o Venus and the Greeks 8 year cycle for phenomena, retro gradation is repeated every 8 years in the
Combination of eccentric and epicycle on deferent to produce the loops needed
to match the observations.
- Babylonians : mathematical astronomy
o Astrology : the science of looking up in the sky and trying to figure out how the motions
of the things up there pertain to human destinies down on earth. Their interest in
astronomy (science) comes from their interest in astrology (Divination)
o Greeks originally don’t have an interest in astrology but when they come across
Babylonian texts they start to focus more on it.
o Roman are very astrological , but the Greeks perfected it from the Babylonians texts
o Where were the planets at the moment of your birth, then you plot them in the sky on
the zodiac, and where the different planets lie will determine your personality or future.
o The 12 houses are fixed in the sky and the planets rotate through them.
o Conjunction : if the planets are close together there will be interaction
o Trine : another relationship between planets
o Square: if the planets are square they will normally cancel each other out
- Horoscopic and the Greeks
o They use a branch of astrology to predict weather and season, helps them determine
when rain, or other weather events will occur and when to harvest or plant crops.
o The look at the horizon just after sunset or just before sunrise for the presence of fixed
stars. This is their phase.
o The lunar calendar does not sync up well with the seasons, so they developed
Parapegmas to determine what phenomena would be occurring on that day independat
of the calendar.
They let you predict the argricultral year, hippocrate medicine, your health
balance, good fortune, specific weather conditions, phases of the fixed stars.
o When the romans conquer Greece they already have a better calendar and peg board
system (thinner marble and better handwriting). They cite the source of each prediction
( according to eudoxus) in order to make sure they know who to blame incase it goes
o All different kinda of people are list