[LMB] OT: Dark Ages [not], was, What makes ...

baur baur baur at chello.at
Mon Aug 26 06:55:18 BST 2019


> Eric Oppen <ravenclaweric at gmail.com> hat am 26. August 2019 um 06:41 geschrieben:
> 
> 
> One big difference between the Romans and the Greeks was that the Romans
> put their knowledge to practical use.  At one point in the book *Claudius
> the God*, Claudius is talking to a friend of his who was waxing rhapsodic
> over the Egyptian pyramids.  Claudius sneers at the Pyramids, pointing out
> that they did nothing useful and didn't even preserve their builders'
> corpses.  He then points to the Acqua Claudia and says that Rome's
> aqueducts and bridges and roads are far better investments and much more
> useful.
> 
> One thing that limited most pre-medieval science was the fact that they
> didn't have a numeration system that was much good for anything beyond
> simple arithmetic.  Imagine trying to do advanced math in Roman numerals
> sometime...or maybe not.  Down that path lies madness, decay and summoning
> the Great Old Ones to eat everybody.  Until Arabic numerals came in,
> mathematics was necessarily limited.

practical / applied mathematics were limited .. 

theoretical mathematics were doing fine with wonky numeral systems - look what the greeks did with theirs . 

servus

markus 
 
> Another factor was the rise of "revealed" religion.  As the great L.
> Sprague de Camp put it in his *The Ancient Engineers*, "why strain for
> years to understand some obscure natural law when the new religions
> promised eternal life and happiness, so much more easily?"  Or words to
> that effect; I don't have the book open in front of me.
> 
> On Sun, Aug 25, 2019 at 10:03 PM Nicholas David Rosen <ndrosen at erols.com>
> wrote:
> 
> > Matthew George wrote:
> >
> > > On Thu, Aug 22, 2019 at 11:59 AM Damien Sullivan wrote:
> > >
> > >> Dubious.  Anyway, engineering and other practicalities certainly did
> > >> advance:
> > >
> > >
> > > But not the theoretical understanding that is ultimately necessary to
> > > produce new practical applications.  How much of our technology is
> > > dependent upon calculus?  Even the few things that don't actually require
> > > it almost always involve it in design optimization.
> > >
> > > Oh, and here's a list of Roman science writers.  Geography, astronomy,
> > >> zoology, weather... https://www.ancient.eu/Roman_Science/
> > >
> > >
> > > " and so Roman scientists, even if their own innovations were largely
> > more
> > > concerned with refinements than new ideas outright, "
> > >
> > >
> > >> Apparently Virgil, Horace, Catullus, Lucretius, Cicero, Seneca, Livy,
> > >> Martial...  don't count as cultural development to you?  Poets,
> > >> playrights, novelists, historians, philosophers...
> > >>
> > >
> > > Their philosophers mostly covered ground the Greeks had already gone
> > over.
> > > Even today, it's noted that all philosophy is covered in the works of
> > Plato
> > > - which is a damning condemnation of the field in my view.  The Romans
> > were
> > > big on history, not so much on novel drama.  To the Greeks, theater was a
> > > highly esteemed function that arose from religious ritual; to the Romans,
> > > actors belonged to the lowest class of society like prostitutes, and
> > > theater was largely an amusement for the proles.
> >
> > Still, the Romans did have theater, and did compose drama in Latin, along
> > with poetry, history, and more.  There may not have been a Roman Plato or
> > Aristotle,  it how man6 Greeks matched Plato or Aristotle?
> > >
> > > By modern Western standards probably *all* societies have been "absurdly
> > >> rigid and superstitious".
> > >>
> > >
> > > The Roman society has been said to be more concerned with propriety and
> > > codified standards of behavior than medieval Japan.  Even by ancient
> > > standards, they were obsessed with ritual and magic, and their caste
> > system
> > > made India look freewheeling and permissive.
> >
> > The Romans had slavery and class distinctions, but they weren’t that
> > rigid.  The son of a freed slave was an ingenuus, and the descendants of
> > conquered foreigners were made Roman citizens.
> >
> >
> > >> After all, work is for slaves.    I can hardly find fault in the Romans
> > >> for getting things done.
> > >
> > >
> > > Yeah, Rome never used slaves.  And despite acquiring virtually everything
> > > else imaginable, they didn't "get things done" when it came to acquiring
> > > knowledge.
> > >
> > >
> > >> That's a ridiculous claim.
> > >>
> > >
> > > The Barrayarans wrote new 'Shakespearean' plays.  The Romans didn't write
> > > new Greek drama.
> >
> > As I said above, they wrote new Latin drama.
> >
> > >> But they weren't.
> > >
> > >
> > > They were.
> > >
> > >
> > >> Though Romans do seem to have been weak in
> > >> contributions to pure mathematics.  Your sneering at practical
> > >> contributions says more about you than the Romans.
> > >>
> > >
> > > The scientific revolution proved conclusively that you can produce
> > > infinitely more practical applications by expanding the scope of abstract
> > > knowledge.  We didn't learn about electricity in order to meet needs and
> > > desires, a bunch of nerds studied it because they were curious.  The
> > Romans
> > > accumulated techniques and collated data, they didn't seek understanding,
> > > and so their understanding did not increase.  The early years of
> > > Renaissance discovered more about how the world worked than the Romans
> > > managed in the entire extent of their empire.
> > >
> > > These points are obvious.
> > >
> > > Matt "man does not live by bread and circuses alone" G.
> > >
> >
> > The early years of the Renaissance saw improvements in art and to some
> > extent in technology, although the Medievals had made advances in
> > technology already, as has been pointed out; and the Renaissance saw a
> > revival of classical scholarship, including knowledge of Ancient Greek.
> > The men of the Renaissance went in for Platonism, which I think was a step
> > in the wrong direction, as compared to Aristotelianism, which had prevailed
> > in the late Middle Ages.
> >
> >
> > I don’t see how the early years of the Renaissance discovered much about
> > how the world worked; Copernicus and Galileo were late Renaissance, and
> > it’s hard to see how there was much advance in science before that, unless
> > you count improved perspective (and perhaps use of a camera obscura in
> > painting) as an advance in optics.
> >
> > Best Regards,
> >
> > Nicholas D. Rosen
> > ndrosen at erols.com
> > ndrosen.dreamwidth.org
> > --
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> >
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