TECHNICS AND SCIENCE IN THE MIDDLE AGES
IT HAS OFTEN BEEN POINTED out that science develops best when the speculative reasoning of the philosopher and mathematician is in closest touch with the manual skill of the craftsman. It has been said also that the absence of this association in the Greco-Roman world and in medieval Christendom was one reason for the supposed backwardness of science in those societies. The practical arts were certainly despised by the majority of the most highly educated people in Classical Antiquity, and were held to be the work of slaves. In view of such works as the long series of Greek medical writings, stretching from the first members of the so-called Hippocratic corpus to the works of Galen, the military devices and the 'screw' attributed to Archimedes, the treatises on building, engineering and other branches of applied mechanics written during Hellenistic and Roman times by Ctesibius of Alexandria, Athenæus, Apollodorus, Hero of Alexandria, Vitruvius, Frontinus and Pappus of Alexandria, and the works on agriculture by the elder Cato, Varro and Columella, it may be doubted whether even in Classical Antiquity the separation of technics and science was as complete as has been sometimes supposed. In the Middle Ages there is much evidence to show that these two activities were at no period totally divorced and that their association became more intimate as time went on. This active, practical interest of educated people may be one reason why the Middle Ages was a period of technical innovation, though most of the advances were probably made by
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Publication information: Book title: Augustine to Galileo:The History of Science, A.D. 400- 1650. Contributors: A. C. Crombie - Author. Publisher: William Heinemann. Place of publication: Melbourne, Vic. Publication year: 1952. Page number: 143.
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