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

Tony Zbaraschuk tonyz at eskimo.com
Wed Aug 28 16:05:53 BST 2019

On Wed, August 28, 2019 8:38 am, Damien Sullivan wrote:
> On Sun, Aug 25, 2019 at 11:02:41PM -0400, Nicholas David Rosen wrote:
<re Romans>
>>> 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
> Dubious...

Whitehead argued that most European philosophy is really just footnotes
to Plato, and I think he has a point; the Greeks really did explore huge
chunks of the probability space of philosphy and you can usually find a
Greek precursor to most modern views (and a lot of Indian and Chinese
philosophy as well).  For Whitehead, Paul's introspective "I know and
approve the good thing, but I do the worse", was maybe the only real
advance (as opposed to Plato/Socrates arguing that knowledge of the
true good led inevitably to doing it).

>>> Yeah, Rome never used slaves.  And despite acquiring virtually
>>> everything else imaginable, they didn't "get things done" when it came
>>> to acquiring knowledge.
> No worse than anyone else.

There's an enormous amount of practical knowledge the Romans worked
on, notably civil engineering but also big chunks on farming and
animal husbandry and so forth, and let's not forget Roman law and
political science, from the view of practical philosophy.

>> 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.

There's a good deal of work at Oxford and Paris in the High Middle
Ages on the philosophy of physics, most of which nobody knows about
except specialists -- "God said, 'Let Newton be!', and all was light", is
the popular view, but Newton and Galileo were standing on the shoulders of
a lot of people who had worked out and clarified stuff about motion and
related things.

Tony Z
Et vocavit Deus, "Fiat lux!"

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