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By A. C. Crombie (ed:9

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Additional info for Scientific Change: Historical studies in the intellectual, social and technical conditions for scientific discovery and technical invention, from antiquity to the present

Sample text

To meet this dangerous objection, Plato proceeds to explain that the ultimate cause o f all motion is the soul, that all stars are in perfect circular motion and that therefore a most perfect, divine, reasonable soul (or several such souls) must be the cause o f their motion. This argument is developed at great length in the tenth and eleventh books o f the Laws. It is quite clear why Plato considers mathematics and astronomy as most important parts o f the education o f future leaders o f states.

T he combined effects o f the irrational tendencies within neo-Platonism and of the anti-scientific attitude o f the early Church, enhanced by the decUne o f the centres o f learning in the sixth century, gave the final blow to scientific thought and brought to an end that continuous chain o f rational thinking which linked the early Greek philosophers with some o f the latest neo-Platonists. LATER GREEK SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT 65 In the following, some o f the foregoing points will be elaborated and illustrated by quotations.

The resulting conception o f the interdependence o f objects and events in space and time led to a strict determinism and to the beginning o f functional thought. The pneuma also undermined the hypothesis o f the fifth element. Neo-Platonism took over some of the Stoic ideas and led further to a revival 64 E S T A B L I S H M E N T OF S C I E N T I F I C T H I N K I N G IN A N T I Q U I T Y and amplification o f Plato’s geometrical theory o f matter and to a programmatic formulation o f mathematical physics.

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Scientific Change: Historical studies in the intellectual, social and technical conditions for scientific discovery and technical invention, from antiquity to the present by A. C. Crombie (ed:9


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