Science before Socrates: Parmenides, Anaxagoras, and the New Astronomy

Hardcover | July 15, 2013

byDaniel Graham

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In Science before Socrates, Daniel Graham argues against the prevalent belief that the Presocratic philosophers did not produce any empirical science and that the first major Greek science, astronomy, did not develop until at least the time of Plato. Instead, Graham proposes that the advancesmade by Presocratic philosophers in the study of astronomy deserve to be considered as scientific contributions.Whereas philosophers of the sixth century BC treated astronomical phenomena as ephemeral events continuous with weather processes, those of the fifth century treated heavenly bodies as independent stony masses whirled in a cosmic vortex. Two historic events help to date and account for the change: asolar eclipse in 478 BC and a meteoroid that fell to earth around 466. Both events influenced Anaxagoras, who transformed insights from Parmenides into explanations of lunar and solar eclipses, meteors, and rainbows.Virtually all philosophers came to accept Anaxagoras' theory of lunar light and eclipses. Aristotle endorsed Anaxagoras' theory of eclipses as a paradigm of scientific explanation. Anaxagoras' theories launched a geometrical approach to astronomy and were accepted as foundational principles by allmathematical astronomers from Aristarchus to Ptolemy to Copernicus and Galileo - and to the present day.

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In Science before Socrates, Daniel Graham argues against the prevalent belief that the Presocratic philosophers did not produce any empirical science and that the first major Greek science, astronomy, did not develop until at least the time of Plato. Instead, Graham proposes that the advancesmade by Presocratic philosophers in the stud...

Daniel W. Graham is Professor of Philosophy at Brigham Young University. He has written, translated, or edited seven volumes on ancient philosophy and has published numerous scholarly articles on Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, and the Presocratic philosophers. He does research in history of philosophy and history of science. He is presid...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.98 inPublished:July 15, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199959781

ISBN - 13:9780199959785

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Cosmic Conjunctions1. Looking for Science1.1 Unfounded speculation1.2 Footnotes to Thales1.3 Footnotes to Pythagoras1.4 Science without knowledge1.5 History of science without history1.6 History of science without science1.7 Old-time history of scienceNotes2. Azure Pastures: An Early Ionian Model2.1 Hesiod's mythical cosmography2.2 Ionian theories2.3 The Meteorological ModelNotes3. Borrowed Light: The Insights of Parmenides3.1 Fifth-century advances3.2 Three insights: Heliophotism, planetary unification, sphericity3.3 The power of a model3.4 Conjectures3.5 Conceptual advancesNotes4. Empire of the Sun: Implications of Heliophotism, and a New Model4.1 Antiphraxis and other theoretical implications4.2 A new physics4.3 Anaxagoras' new cosmology and astronomy4.4 The Lithic ModelNotes5. Darkened Suns and Falling Stars: Heaven-sent Proofs5.1 Lives of the eminent philosophers5.2 Eclipses5.3 The meteor5.4 The comet5.5 The Nile floodsNotes6. Lunar Revolutions: The Triumph of the New Astronomy6.1 A community effort6.2 Anaxagoras' theory6.3 Other theories of the fifth century6.4 Characteristics of the Lithic Model6.5 The doxography6.6 Plato's heavenly sphere6.7 Aristotle's paradigm6.8 A scientific consensusNotes7. The Geometry of the Heavens7.1 The story of early Greek astronomy7.2 Scientific Progress7.3 Historical and Philosophical SignificanceNotesAppendix 1: Anaxagoras in the Historiography of ScienceNotesAppendix 2: Science and HistoryNotesBibliography