The Heroic Age of Science: The Conception, Ideals, and Methods of Science among the Ancient Greeks

The Heroic Age of Science: The Conception, Ideals, and Methods of Science among the Ancient Greeks

The Heroic Age of Science: The Conception, Ideals, and Methods of Science among the Ancient Greeks

The Heroic Age of Science: The Conception, Ideals, and Methods of Science among the Ancient Greeks

Excerpt

The subtitle of this modest booklet is intended to indicate its scope; but it can not adequately suggest the point of view from which it was written. Though that point of view is likely to call forth dissent and criticism, it was deliberately taken because it seemed the only right one in dealing with beginnings. Science now means many different things to different persons according to the special interest of each group; but, wherever one may turn, the name will be found to imply a quite definite subject and method. This is, of course, the result of specialization, which comes about partly through the limitations of personal interest and partly through the extension of the field of knowledge and the consequent realization of the practical impossibility of commanding a survey of the whole. In the beginning, however, there were neither established categories nor special methods and techniques; there was only the native intelligence schooled in practical affairs and directed to the various subjects which aroused the curiosity of the thinker. Men were surveying the scene, roughly sketching what they should like to achieve and forging the indispensable tools for its realization. Later generations have models ready to hand, on which they may improve according to their ability; the pioneer has at most the raw materials. But if he is limited in regard to the degree of refinement he may attain, he has by way of compensation a measure of freedom which later-comers hardly enjoy; and in building according to his circumstances he is perhaps fixing a type for all time. Such was the fortune of the earliest Greek thinkers; having in most fields of inquiry no models, they had perforce to depend upon their . . .

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