Readings in the Literature of Science: Being Extracts from the Writings of Men of Science to Illustrate the Development of Scientific Thought

Readings in the Literature of Science: Being Extracts from the Writings of Men of Science to Illustrate the Development of Scientific Thought

Readings in the Literature of Science: Being Extracts from the Writings of Men of Science to Illustrate the Development of Scientific Thought

Readings in the Literature of Science: Being Extracts from the Writings of Men of Science to Illustrate the Development of Scientific Thought

Excerpt

And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

ARISTOTLE

THE beginnings of science can be traced in Babylonian astronomy and in Egyptian geometry and medicine. In Greece, the genius of a gifted race used the knowledge of Babylon and Egypt as a subject for more abstract thought. The writings of the earlier philosophers are seldom represented by more than isolated fragments, and our knowledge of their work is chiefly derived from references and quotations in later authors. Of these, the most important in the history of thought was Aristotle, who lived from about 384 to about 321 B.C. He had a share in the education of Alexander the Great, who afterwards supplied money to forward Aristotle's researches. Most of his works survive, and contain an encyclopædic study of the knowledge of his time. Perhaps Aristotle's greatest strength lay in biology, and there we shall meet him again. In astronomy and physics he was less successful. He attempted too much. The true line of immediate advance lay in the more limited but more exact methods of Aristarchus and Archimedes. Nevertheless, both for his own ideas and for an account of those of other Greek philosophers, Aristotle's physical works are of great interest.

Moreover, commentaries on Aristotle were almost the only channel by which the ancient learning passed through the dark ages in Western Europe, and the rediscovery of his works themselves marked the cul-

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