Science Of The Ancient World

799 Words4 Pages
Science in the ancient world was a complex concept. There was a varied, and at times mixed, emphasis on the mythical, or theoretical, and practical components of science, depending upon where the “science” was practised. Theoretical science, as described by Peter Dear, is abstracted practice, while practical science is applied theory. Whilst, the ancient Greeks generally placed more emphasis on theory, the ancient Egyptians generally took knowledge and applied it in a practical manner. Most leading Greek intellectuals practised theoretical science. Aristotle, for example, referred to science as epistēmē, scientia in Latin. This definition “designated logically and empirically demonstrable knowledge of truth,” meaning it was a theoretical view of science. In addition, people such as Aristotle and Empedocles believed in such theoretical models as the four humours, known as humourism. According to humourism, the body is composed of four humours (yellow bile, black bile, blood, and phlegm) and any illness is the result of an imbalance of the humours. Based on observations, humourism is a purely theoretical model. Physicians attempted to apply the humoural model to patients, but the results were typically harmful to the patients’ health. Despite such theoretical thinking, the Greek mathematician, Archimedes, practised science with practical components. For example, he created the Claw of Archimedes, which was used to lift attacking ships out of the water, causing the enemy ship to capsize. The theory was successfully applied. With the exception of people such as Archimedes, ancient Greek science was largely theoretical. The Ancient Egyptian intellectuals, on the other hand, based their science upon more practical compone... ... middle of paper ... ...ntellectuals in the ancient world. “Location, location, location,” an old adage, describes the situation of the intellectuals in the ancient world. In general, the geography of the intellectual determined to which society he belonged, determining which government and which religion that he followed. Nevertheless, the circumstances that geography determined were not strict rules in dictating intellectuals’ practices. Archimedes practised a very practical science while Aristotle adhered more to the theoretical components of science. Despite the difference in the theoretical and practical components of science, both contributed greatly to modern practices. For example, Aristotle’s conjectures formed the basis of European science for centuries. Thus, despite the ridicule with which the modern perspective views such theories, they are not to be discarded or ignored.
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