Ancient Foundations of Science Study Guide Essay

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Ancient Foundations of Science

Ionia (Rise of Cities)
Scientific Enterprise (600 BC)
Same as rise of Greek cities (polis)


Maritime Technology
Need for boats was the beginning of the scientific revolution
Greek sailors sailed around Africa

Democracy in Greece
Placed priority on logic
Free exchange of ideas (basis of science)

Ionian = Pre-Socratic Philosophers
Natural explanations of material things
2 questions: what is the universe made of?
What causes things to change?
First to conceptualize nature
Cosmos=Greek word for order
Ability to reason is understanding nature

Thales (-600BC)
Lived in the port city Miletus, Ionia
First to attempt theory of matter
Compared matter to water

Student of Thales
Described why things change
Defined the world as eternal
Universe is infinite in time and space

From Samos (island near Ionia)
Believed universe is explained through numbers
Pythagorean Theorem
Inspired Pythagorean cult who followed his belief (obsessed with math)

Empedocles ( -450 BC)
From Sicily
Introduces that the universe is based on 4 elements
Earth, water, fire and air

From Abdera, Greece
Proposed the world was made up of atoms

Plato (424 BC – 348 BC)
Student of Socrates
Founded academy in Athens
First school of higher learning
World can be understood through pure thought
Realm of Forms: only accessible through thought
The perfect world
Dismisses observation
Doesn’t think that is the way to gain information about the world

Student of Plato
Every effect has a cause, and science figures out that cause
Considered the first scientist

Euclid (-300BC)
Alexandria, Egypt
Published book Elements for geometry

Archimedes (-250 BC)
Born and raised in Sicily but studied in Alexandria
Applies abstract concepts to practical problems
“Eureka” – when he used displacement to figure out density story about king and bath tub

Alexander the Great (-300 BC)
Student of Aristotle
Alexandria, Egypt was the center of his empire
Library of Alexandria
Biggest library and the most important in the world

Roman Empire (400’s AD)

Boethius (480 AD – 525 AD)
Tries to translate scrolls from Greek to vernacular while Roman empire was falling apart
Translation movement * * Saint Augustine (354 AD – 430 AD)
Wrote City of God
Book about an abstract ideal for Christians (perfect city)
United the ideas of Plato and Christianity
Human’s ultimate goal is to understand god

Arab World in Science

2 things that shaped Arab science
Islam: assurance in their own faith
Location: expanded east and west
Golden age of Islam (so called Dark Ages)

Al Ma’mun (786 AD – 833 AD)
House of Wisdom: translations of Greek scientific texts into Arabic (Big Library)

Al-Khwarizmi (780 – 850)
Book: Hindu Numerals (Base 10 numerals)
Basis for math today
Credited for developing algebra * * Ion Sina or Avicenna (980-1037)
Book: Cannon of Medicine

Mutazilites (800 – 1100)
Believed Allah gave humans the ability to reason
Religion and science aren’t mutually exclusive
Studied natural world


Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274)
All truth is one: God says reason helps you know God better
Faith and reason
United Aristotle and Christianity

Origins of the Scientific Revolution
1000 AD first universities started to appear
1088 University of Bologna in North Italy
Wealthy males only!
Manor: basic and center method of medieval Europe
Most populated citied: Florence, Milan and Paris
Plague: Black Death
Spread by fleas on the backs of rats
Only time in history when the population globally decreased
Aftermath – large rise in merchant (middle) class

Renaissance Italy

Wealth: bankers and merchants
House of Medici
Banking Family
Patrons of the arts
Cosimo de Medici
Discovery of perspective
Johann Gutenberg (1395 – 1428)