CHAPTER 6 SCIENCE

IT is with science in the making rather than with science as we understand the word to-day that we have to deal in the present chapter. Modern science implies not only the collection of observed facts and the application of those facts to practical problems, but a study of the underlying principles and their formulation into natural laws. Meteorology, for instance, is far more than either weather lore or weather statistics.

It seems hardly legitimate to apply our present conception of science in dealing with the older civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. The majority of writers on Greek science assume that the scientific idea suddenly emerged with the Ionian Greeks. The Egyptians taught orally; the Greeks by writing. For this reason, far less is known of the Egyptians than the Greeks, and the writer on Egyptian science starts at a disadvantage. The Egyptians never had the consuming intellectual curiosity which is characteristic of the Greek spirit. In their enthusiasm for the marvel of the Greek achievement many writers have been apt to forget the debt Greece owed to Egypt--a debt the Greeks themselves acknowledged in no uncertain terms.

Thales and many others after him were profoundly impressed and stimulated by the Egyptian civilization. In Egypt they found an immense store of practical and useful knowledge, if not exactly science in the full sense in which we use the word to-day, at any rate the raw material of science. Yet future research may reveal a more developed scientific attitude in Egypt than has hitherto been suspected.

A study of the beginnings of science in Egypt enables us to gain some idea of the processes of thought which underlie the remarkable development which took place among the Greeks. The material available for study is relatively meagre, and fresh

-160-

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The Legacy of Egypt
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Note v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • Chapter 1 - The Calendars and Chronology 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Political Approach to the Classical World 17
  • Chapter 3 - Writing and Literature 53
  • Chapter 4 - Egyptian Art 80
  • Chapter 5 - Mechanical and Technical Processes. Materials 120
  • Chapter 6 - Science 160
  • Chapter 7 - Medicine 179
  • Chapter 8 - Law 198
  • Chapter 9 - Egypt and Israel 218
  • Chapter 10 - The Greek Papyri 249
  • Chapter 11 - Egypt and Romez 283
  • Chapter 12 - The Egyptian Contribution to Christianity 300
  • Chapter 13 - Egypt and the Byzantine Empire 332
  • Chapter 14 - The Contribution to Islam 348
  • Select Bibliography 368
  • Chapter 15 - The Legacy to Modern Egypt 369
  • Index 395
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