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Richard Carrier: The Scientist in the Early Roman Empire

This is the place to discuss the past, its study, and those who study it. Discussion about events that happened less than twenty years ago should go go in Politics instead.
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lpetrich
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Richard Carrier: The Scientist in the Early Roman Empire

Post by lpetrich » Tue Nov 28, 2017 4:29 am

Was Roman Science in Decline? (Excerpt from My New Book) - Richard Carrier
This brings to completion the publication of my Columbia University dissertation, expanded and revised for a broader audience, but still thoroughly academic (it’s heavily footnoted; the bibliography alone extends over sixty pages). The basic table of contents reads:

Introduction
The Natural Philosopher as Ancient Scientist
The Roman Idea of Scientific Progress
In Praise of the Scientist
Christian Rejection of the Scientist
Conclusion

But packed in there is a lot more, including full surveys of the history of ancient science and technology, and such sections as “The Scientist as Hero in the Roman Era,” “The Scientist as Craftsman in the Roman Era,” and “The Methods of Roman Scientists.” Probably the most thorough treatment of Roman science in over forty years. Here is one such section, 3.7, “Was Roman Science in Decline?” Which I’ve also added hyperlinks to for this presentation. It starts just after I finished proving with extensive evidence and citations of scholarship that Romans were fully aware of and praised past and continued scientific progress, and were still engaged in producing it. This section refers to other parts of the book, but you’ll get the idea. You’ll see hints of many other gems in there to find.
He goes into a lot of detail about that, rebutting many people who have claimed otherwise.

Toward the end, he writes
Besides those, however, there are four other arguments that appear repeatedly in the literature, which purport to prove that the ancients had no conception of scientific (and technological) progress or were even hostile to the idea. It is often claimed the ancient slave system discouraged interest in progress, or that progress was blocked due to the Romans being dead set against the idea of changing or interfering with the natural order, or that they never had the idea of explaining nature and natural processes mechanically (rather than, say, organically or supernaturally), or that they were so obsessed with a cyclical model of time that they were incapable of even imagining progress or thinking it possible or worthwhile. All false.

The following sections then cover in detail “The Slavery Thesis” (pp. 250-53), “Changing Nature” (pp. 253-58), “Mechanizing Nature” (pp. 258-63), and “The Cyclical Time Thesis” (pp. 263-69). And I follow that with a complete survey of “Ancient Tales of Decline” (pp. 270-307).
Looks awfully interesting. Seems like he also rebuts the "heads in the clouds" thesis, that philosophers preferred reasoning from first principles to doing observations and experiments.

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Post by lpetrich » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:14 pm

Richard Carrier 2017 SOFREE - YouTube -- Society of Ontario Freethinkers

RC gave a talk about some of what he discussed in his upcoming book, like how early Christians did not like the values involved in doing science: curiosity, empiricism, and progress. They'd claim that if God wanted us to know something, then he would have told us. Something that reminds me of how if we were meant to fly, we'd have wings.

A millennium later, that situation was reversed in late medieval and early modern times by importing those values and presenting those values as True Xianity.

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Post by lpetrich » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:54 pm

The Scientist in the Early Roman Empire
In this extensive sequel to Science Education in the Early Roman Empire, Dr. Richard Carrier explores the social history of scientists in the Roman era. Was science in decline or experiencing a revival under the Romans? What was an ancient scientist thought to be and do? Who were they, and who funded their research? And how did pagans differ from their Christian peers in their views toward science and scientists? Some have claimed Christianity valued them more than their pagan forebears. In fact the reverse is the case. And this difference in values had a catastrophic effect on the future of humanity. The Romans may have been just a century or two away from experiencing a scientific revolution. But once in power, Christianity kept that progress on hold for a thousand years—while forgetting most of what the pagans had achieved and discovered, from an empirical anatomy, physiology, and brain science to an experimental physics of water, gravity, and air. Thoroughly referenced and painstakingly researched, this volume is a must for anyone who wants to learn how far we once got, and why we took so long to get to where we are today.
At Amazon, the book will be out in print form on December 12, and in Kindle e-book form on December 1. I have preordered the Kindle version.

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Post by lpetrich » Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:03 pm

I got the book on Kindle, and I've started reading it. Looks most interesting. RC went into a lot of detail, but I'll report on it as I read it.

I don't have a Kindle device. Instead, I have a Kindle reader app that runs on my iMac.

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Post by lpetrich » Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:12 am

Table of Contents:
  1. Introduction
    1. Problem
    2. Focus
      1. Chronological Focus
      2. Cultural Focus
      3. Subject Focus
    3. Method
  2. The Natural Philosopher as Ancient Scientist
    1. Defining the Natural Philosopher
    2. Aristotle's Idea of a Scientist
    3. On Stone & Papyrus
    4. "Natural Philosophers" as the Presocratics
    5. The Roman Conception of the Scientist
    6. The Methods of Roman Scientists
    7. Mathematics & Causation
    8. Summary & Conclusion
  3. The Roman Idea of Scientific Progress
    1. The Growth of Ancient Science
    2. Scientific Medicine up to the Roman Era
    3. Scientific Astronomy up to the Roman Era
    4. Scientific Physics up to the Roman Era
    5. Other Sciences?
    6. Technological Progress
      1. Techniques as Technologies
      2. Inventions Already Mentioned
      3. Hellenistic Inventions
      4. Roman Inventions
      5. The Prospect of Steam
      6. Science and Technology
    7. Was Roman Science in Decline?
      1. The Slavery Thesis
      2. Changing Nature
      3. Mechanizing Nature
      4. The Cyclical Time Thesis
    8. Ancient Tales of Decline
      1. Roman Claims of Decline
      2. Stories Implying Resistance to Innovation
      3. Impediments to Research
      4. The Real Decline
    9. Ancient Recognition of Scientific Progress
      1. The Modern Debate
      2. The Ancient Evidence
    10. Summary & Conclusion
  4. In Praise of the Scientist
    1. Philosophers for Science
    2. Literary Praise
    3. Evidence of Elite Interest
    4. Seneca and the Aetna
      1. Seneca
      2. The Aetna
    5. The Scientist as Hero in the Roman Era
    6. The Scientist as Craftsman in the Roman Era
      1. Did Snobbery Impede Science?
      2. Roman Scientists and Middle-Class Values
      3. Conclusion
    7. Lack of Institutional Support?
    8. Evidence of Non-Christian Hostility to Science
    9. The Path to Christian Values
    10. Summary & Conclusion
  5. Christian Rejection of the Scientist
    1. Clement of Alexandria (C. 200 A.D.)
    2. Tertullian (C. 200 A.D.)
    3. Lactantius (C. 300 A.D.)
    4. Eusebius (C. 300 A.D.)
    5. Christian Anti-intellectualism?
    6. Evidence in the New Testament
      1. "Epistemic Values" in the New Testament
      2. Against the "Wisdom of the Wise"
      3. Conclusion
    7. Evidence from Christian Writers
    8. Assessment of Christian Hostility
    9. Exceptions that Prove the Rule
    10. Medieval Christianity
  6. Conclusion
    1. Results
    2. Applications
    3. Speculations
Mostly lists of references:
Appendix A on Ancient Exploration
Appendix B on Science before Aristotle
Appendix C on the Books of Sextus Empiricus

Then a huge bibliography.

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