History of the Sciences in Greco-Roman Antiquity

By Arnold Reymond; Ruth Gheury De Bray | Go to book overview

PART II. PRINCIPLES AND METHODS

I N glancing at the history of humanity, one fact immediately attracts attention. It is the supremacy over all the continents which Europe has been able to win and to keep until the present day. The cause of this supremacy has not been either numerical superiority or a more advanced social organization or even any particular religious and literary ideas. The Chinese, as is well known, were civilized long before the Europeans, and, long before them, were acquainted with the use of the compass and even of gunpowder. The Hindoos, on the other hand, have possessed from the remote past a religion and a literature whose attraction, even to Western minds, is far from being exhausted; and in Central America there existed a state of advanced civilization, which was annihilated by the Spanish conquest. As to numerical superiority, it is sufficient to recall the fact, that even at the present time, either India or China has a larger population than Europe. If the white race has triumphed over other races, it is because it possessed weapons infinitely more formidable than those of its adversaries, and that for commercial transactions it had at its disposal manufactured products far superior to those of other nations. Now, the manufacture of these weapons and products has only been rendered possible through the progressive development of the mathematical and physical sciences of which the Greek nation laid down the principles and established the solid foundations. So it may be said that if ancient Greece had not created and transmitted rational science to Europe, the latter

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