The History of
History is not
about ÒFactsÓ (that
would be boring)
¥History, as a discipline, consists of:
¥The two must not be confused.
History is About:
¥History is not about dead people -- it is
¥From educere -- Òto draw out.Ó
¥Education is about opening minds, not
filling them with Òfacts.Ó
¥The ÒfactsÓ and information in this class are
but the hardware of critical thinking.
¥The goal is critical thinking.
ÐHistory of those elements in a social
group or era which characterize it
and set it apart in the areas of:
ÐKnowledge and belief
ÐBehavior, Customs, and social forms
ÐCONTEXT IS KEY
¥Focuses on knowledge and belief
¥Examines how thought, worlviews, and
ideas change through time (or persist
beyond the time in which they were
¥Recognizes that ideas and beliefs can cause
¥ What was known or
believed in a given
¥ What was the
worldview: how did
people conceive of the
world and themselves
in relation to it?
¥ How did the ideas
change through time?
Intellectual History is the History
¥Literate subculture of Early Modern Europe
¥They were connected with each other
through Books and Writing.
¥Often called ÒElitesÓ but their ideas have
now become common.
We are considering
science as an aspect of
“Science” is the main
of modern Western
Who is this guy (and where does
¥Dr. Steven Matthews
¥Office Hours: the hour after class, MWF, or
The Website (again)
On the 3x5 Card:
¥ Name: Steven Matthews
¥ How you are called: ÒDaddyÓ or ÒDr. MatthewsÓ
¥ Email: smatthew
¥ Major: European History/The History of Science
¥ Year in school: ( Terminal).
¥ Anything special? English degree, theology
degree, then a doctorate in history (from the
University of Florida). Dissertation on Francis
Bacon. Two small children. Working on a book.
The History of Science, points
1.Some of the questions that make it so gosh
darn interesting to be a historian of science.
2.Science is a Modern, Western phenomenon.
(Why do we say this?)
3.You say you want a Revolution? WhatÕs
ÒrevolutionaryÓ about the scientific
4.A bit of the History of the History of Science
(focus on ÒWhiggismÓ)
What Is Science?
¥ The word has been in common use in the English
language for around two centuries.
¥ This is still a question without a definite answer.
¥ There are many answers suggested, but they vary
even among those who are professionals in the
¥ For now, it is best to see it as a ÒconstellationÓ of
ideas and methods which have been generally
accepted as constituting areas of study which
focus on mathematics and experimentation.
Some other questions asked by
historians of science:
¥ What makes something Òscientific?Ó
¥ Why is that which claims to be ÒscientificÓ more
¥ WhatÕs the cultural significance of names like ÒNewton,Ó
ÒGalileo,Ó ÒDarwin,Ó ÒFreud,Ó and ÒEinstein?Ó (Why not
ÒHeisenbergÓ or ÒMeitner?Ó)
¥ How many people in our culture who Òbelieve in scienceÓ
¥ Why do we trust medical doctors?
¥ Why does a white lab coat represent knowledge?
¥ What is the significance of phrases like ÒitÕs genetic,Ó and
Òa recent study showsÓ for what we believe about the
¥ Why do we believe in Òprogress?Ó
Science: Modern and Western
¥Historians of science generally donÕt talk about
ÒancientÓ or Ònon-westernÓ Òscience.Ó
¥This is not to make a judgment on the
intelligence of the other groups.
¥Islamic mathematics, Egyptian engineering,
Greek astronomy, Roman medicine, and
Chinese technology have contributed greatly to
the Western phenomenon of ÒScience.Ó
What is ÒWhig History?Ó
¥ The textbook offers one definition, but another often operates in the
History of Science. To wit:
¥ ÒWhig HistoryÓ was named after the British ÒWhigÓ political party
which interpreted all historical developments as leading up to their
¥ Presentism -- studying the past in light of subsequent, particularly
ÒpresentÓ conditions or developments. This is not necessarily an
impediment to the study of history. (ThereÕs nothing wrong with
asking how things came to be.)
¥ ÒWhig HistoryÓ is usually regarded as adding something more: a
positive value judgment of the present state of things in relation to the
¥ ÒThatÕs why weÕre better than all those who have gone before us.Ó
¥ This is a serious impediment to the study of history.
ÒScienceÓ -- Òthe relentless
march of progressÓ
Ascent of man
Triumph of Man
Typical rhetorical claim:
Casting off the superstitions
and errors of the past we press
toward a glorious future.
Philips Magnavox: “You’ve got to admit it’s getting
better, getting better all the time.”
Some objections made to progressivist or
Whig history in the shadow of the Mushroom
¥ If we embrace the victory of science and progress in the
eradication of polio and other advancesÉ
¥ We must also acknowledge its complicity in other forms of
eradication, such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the
¥ The history of Science is not necessarily the history of
positive change, just the history of how science came to be
as it is.
¥ Contemporary History of Science examines the
alternatives as well -- the roads not taken, to come to a
greater understanding of how things came to be.
Cosmology in Antiquity: The
The Big Picture: Astronomy and the
¥ Cosmos -- From the Greek,
s, meaning ÒorderÓ
particularly the type of order of an interacting system. A
catch-all word for what we now call the Òuniverse.Ó (And not
merely the physical)
¥ Logy -- from the Greek,
, or ÒwordÓ meaning an
¥ Cosmology is the discussion of the order of all things that are,
and how they interact with one another.
¥ Often, ÒCosmologyÓ is treated as synonymous with ancient
ÒastronomyÓ but the ancients had much more in mind.
¥ Although, as you read in the article, many cultures and
civilizations contributed to the observation and study of the
Cosmos, the Greeks are the first for whom we have a regular
list of names and accomplishments, and some sense of how
they built upon one another.
¥ We will begin with the Òbig pictureÓ and work our way in.
Pythagoras and His School (Cult?)
¥ Pythagoras of Samos (c. 560 - c. 480 b.c.e.)
¥ He and his followers saw evidence of the divine in the arithmetical
precision of the cosmos.
¥ ÒAll things are Numbers.Ó
¥ Some members of the school maintained, among other things:
Ð that the earth was rotating on its axis, and
Ð that the Earth was revolving, along with other planets, around a central sun.
¥ The Pythagoreans stand as an early example of the Greek faith in
numbers and the designed regularity of the Cosmos, and that properly
arranging circular motions would lead to a full understanding of the
Plato and His School
¥ Plato (428-348 b.c.e.): philosopher, not an
¥ He and his followers were more ÒmainlineÓ
(less secretive and mysterious, and more
accepted) than the Pythagoreans.
¥ Plato shared the belief in the mathematical
precision of the Cosmos.
¥ Challenged his followers to discover the
Òuniform motionsÓ of the stars and
planets through combinations of circular
¥ Plato and his followers shared the more
common-sense (and, at the time, more
mathematically sound) theory of a
¥ Eudoxus of Cnidus (c. 400 - c. 347 b.c.e.) took
PlatoÕs challenge and devised a system of
concentric spheres to explain the motions of
heavenly bodies. For Eudoxus, it was
hypothetical -- a useful calculating device, but
probably not physically true.
¥ Aristotle (384-322 b.c.e.) a philosopher, like
his teacher, not obsessed with the math.
¥ Modified the hypothesis of Ònesting spheresÓ
set forth by Eudoxus, and proposed that it
was the actual physical state of things.
¥ His system came to dominate both the Greco-
Roman world and medieval Christian
Some Problems for the
Mathematicians (only two
¥ AristotleÕs spheres did not readily account for the
observable Òretrograde motionÓ of the planets.
(The planets appear to move backward part of the
time, in reference to the ÒfixedÓ stars of the outer
¥ The proposed circular orbits of all things around
the earth did not fit with the observation that the
sun and planets appear to have different
brightnesses and to move at varying speeds.
On the first problem:
¥Applonius of Perga (c. 240 - . 190 b.c.e.)
proposed an ÒepicycleÓ system to account
for the backward motion of the planets.
¥ÒepiÓ Greek for ÒuponÓ
¥The epicycle is a system of circles upon
On the Second Problem:
¥ Hipparchus of Nicaea (c.
190 - 120 b.c.e.)
¥ Recognized that it took
two days longer for the
sun to move from the
Spring Equinox to the
Summer Solstice, than
from the Summer Solstice
to the Autumn Equinox.
¥ Explained this
mathematically with the
Claudius Ptolemy: The Pinnacle of the
Development of the Geocentric System
¥ (c. 90 - c. 168 c.e.) Alexandria, Egypt.
¥ Incorporated the work of Appolonius,
Hipparchus, and others into his own.
¥ Developed a thorough mathematical
explanation of the entire motion of the
heavens, with the assumption of a Òfixed
¥ The mathematics was extremely complex,
but it worked -- the positions of heavenly
bodies could be very accurately predicted.
¥ Presented his work in a MASSIVE four
volumes of the ÒMathematical SynthesisÓ
¥ Also called the Ògreat synthesisÓ
s -- megisti
From which the Arabs derived
the common title ÒAlmagest.Ó
Minority Report: Heraclides and
¥ AristotleÕs Cosmos, as understood by Ptolemy, became
the sole opinion on the subject of the order of the stars
and planets in the medieval and early renaissance.
¥ It was the dominant, but not the only, theory going in
classical antiquity, however.
¥ Heraclides of Pontus (c. 338- c. 315 b.c.e.) held that the
earth rotates on its axis, and that (at least) mercury and
venus orbited the sun.
¥ Aristarchus of Samos (c. 310 - c. 230 b.c.e.) forwarded
a genuine heliocentric system, probably as complex
and accurate as CopernicusÕ would be one day.
The Basic Elements of Empedocles:
¥ Empedocles (c. 484 - c. 424 b.c.e.) -- Greek physician, poet,
¥ Postulated that in order to account for change there must be
more than one type of matter below the unchanging heavens.
¥ Proposed four ÒelementsÓ to explain the various qualities and
natures of things in the material world.
¥ The mixture and interaction of these elements formed the
variety of substances and objects in the sublunar realm.
¥ Aristotle (again) took the work of Empedocles and elaborated
Ð Added the fifth element: Aether.
Ð Discussed, at length, the tendencies of these elements to return to their
native places in the sublunar cosmos. (This explained, for Aristotle,
much of the change and physical action observed in nature.)
¥ This system, also, became the standard understanding of the
(The Fifth, again,
was Aether, the
of the perfect celestial
spheres: the ÒQuintessence.Ó)
AristotleÕs History of Animals
(all about animals)
¥ Spends considerable space defending the study of Òlower order
¥ To have life means to have a Òsoul.Ó
¥ Aristotle pioneered the practice of classifying the natural world
based upon observable qualities.
¥ Man was truly the measure of all things, for Aristotle -- much of
his observation of other life forms stemmed from comparisons
with human beings.
¥ Among those things which were assumed to have a ÒsoulÓ
(meaning, for Aristotle, an animating principle within the
creature) all were arranged according to a specific hierarchy,
with man at the top, and ÒinanimateÓ things at the bottom.
¥ Within this hierarchy everything was classified according to the
type of ÒsoulsÓ the creature was assumed to have.
Rocks, inert matter, etc.
Other furry animals
Feathered, egg laying animals
Unfeathered,, non-furry animals
Insects, mollucs, etc.
ÒNutritive SoulÓ -- able to ob-
tain nourishment, grow, and
ÒSensitive SoulÓ -- acc-
ounts for sensation and
ÒRational SoulÓ -- complete
self-awareness, reason, able to
think in the abstract.
Medicine: the craft.
¥Medicine was Òpracticed,Ó not merely
¥Medical practitioners also had theories.
¥Medical practice did not always mesh well
with the ideas of philosophers about Òlife.Ó
¥However, there was a lot of crossover of ideas.
Some Key Players in Medicine:
¥ Hippocrates (c. 460-377 b.c.e.), and the Hippocratic Corpus:
Ð Comes down to us as a collection of texts on medical practice from the time.
Ð Hippocrates was the primary figure in a ÒschoolÓ
Ð The writings are those of the physicians in the Òschool.Ó
Ð ThereÕs a lot in the corpus, but one key idea is the concept of ÒbalanceÓ as a key
Ð Wove the concept of elements together with another theory, that of bodily fluids
or ÒhumorsÓ for explaining the human constitution.
Ð Advanced the Òman as microcosmÓ idea (of Plato and others.)
Ð Health is a matter of proper humoral balance.
Ð (Remember, he was a philosopher, not a physician.)
¥ Galen: (c. 130-200 c.e.)
Ð Greek physician and anatomist.
Ð Advanced AristotleÕs empirical study of animals and humans.
Ð Made humoral theory, as per Aristotle, a model for practical medicine.
¥ Aristotle and Galen come down through time as the Òbig namesÓ in the field.
Phlegm: Cold, Wet
Blood: Hot, Wet
Bile: Cold, Dry,
Phlegm: Cold, Wet
Bile: Hot, Dry
Some factors influencing humors
¥The humoral balance of parents
¥Age (the natural life cycle)
A Pressing Question:
Does earth sink through
water to its natural place, or
does water run through the
earth to its natural place?
The argument itself is set in the assumptions
of AristotleÕs laws.
Congratulations: you are now citizens of the
AristotleÕs Physical Hierarchy:
ÒThe Medieval Church Encounters
the Classical TraditionÓ -- David
The Two Routes of Greek Science:
Greek Natural Philosophy
(David C. Lindberg)
Byzantium and Islam
¥ In Roman society, Greek thought was adopted without
any particular development.
¥ So that it could be easily read by Roman intellectuals
whose primary interests lay elsewhere, Greek thought
was summarized and arranged in a more digestible
¥ Those interested in going deeper could go to the Greek
¥ Others could read Greek thought in conveniently
¥ However, this meant that little, and very selective,
Greek thought was preserved in the Latin language.
¥ At least part of the interest in making abbreviated
collections of Greek thought in Latin was to
preserve the most important ideas of Greek natural
¥ This required a process of selection which was
based upon what the editor/translator thought was
¥ With the political and economic demise of Rome,
and especially with the crisis brought to most of
the old Roman Empire by ÒBarbarian InvasionsÓ
the question of preservation became critical.
¥ In the West, the only remaining institutions of learning
capable of the task of preservation were the Christian
¥ However many resources were stretched to the limit in
Ð Parchment and Vellum
Ð Qualified Scribes
Ð The means to travel in seriously hard times.
¥ In order to preserve the Òmost importantÓ ideas, Christian
scholars in the West very carefully selected and
summarized what had already been selected and
summarized in Roman culture.
¥ Christian spiritual works, covering the highest subjects according
to monastic transmitters, took priority.
¥ Other works were selected according to their utility and/or
Ð Medical works and books of prescriptions were among the
Ð Works on history and law were also prized.
Ð At this time other selections varied widely, according to the
varying priorities of the scribes involved.
¥ The net result: little Greek thought filtered down through the
West, and that which did came in a highly abbreviated and
¥ Knowledge was often preserved only in little encyclopedias or
Òbouquets,Ó (florilegia) containing gatherings of short descriptions,
prescriptions, and quotations of earlier works.
The Eastern Route:
¥ In Byzantium
Ð The political and economic fall of Rome was not complete, only a time
Ð The Greek language was not lost as it was in the West.
Ð Serious effort was made to preserve the learning of past generations, but
there was little added to it (except in spiritual and distinctly practical
Ð The result was a high degree of preservation but no real development.
¥ In Islam
Ð When Byzantine lands were conquered Islamic scholars took possession
of the natural philosophical texts they encountered.
Ð They translated the ÒimportantÓ ones into Arabic, and developed the
sciences which they found most useful, particularly mathematics,
medicine, and astronomy.
Ð (Again, cultural triage was at work. ÒUtilityÓ ruled.)
The ÒRenaissanceÓ of the 12th
¥ In the eleventh century, after the last invasions by displaced
Magyars and ÒVikings,Ó etc. Western Europe began to
¥ More centralized government, along with the rise of secure
trade routes and establishment of cities, provided a backdrop
for a renewed interest in learning: this was when the first
universities came on the scene.
¥ Increased travel from trade, not to mention the Crusades,
resulted in a greater cultural exchange between Islam and
the West (as well as Byzantium).
¥ Via Islamic scholars, significant works on mathematics,
medicine, and AristotleÕs cosmos were recovered (along with
the commentaries of Muslim writers.)
12th Century Continued:
¥ (Greek language still remained at a low point in the West,
and very few original Greek texts from Byzantium figured
in the 12th century recovery of learning.)
¥ In natural philosophy Aristotle was largely recovered, but
almost none of the ancient alternatives to Aristotle were
¥ In 1277 the inherent contradictions between Aristotelianism
and Christianity led to the condemnation of 219 Aristotelian
doctrines (or propositions).
¥ In spite of this, the Aristotelian emphasis of the medieval
period was retained, particularly as Aristotle and
Christianity had been reconciled by Thomas Aquinas.
¥ Academic system of the first ÒUniversities.Ó
¥ Dominated by a synthesis of Aristotelian method and
¥ Clerical: established by and for the church.
¥ Knowledge was packaged in, and expanded according to,
the rigid forms of Aristotelian logic.
¥ The Goal was always to reach the highest possible truth
(all knowledge should lead to an understanding of God
which transcends this life and world.)
Three Medieval Classes:
¥Pray (Clergy and Monastics)
The classes were hierarchical
The Development of the ÒMiddleÓ
¥The end of invasions of Europe in the 10th c.
allowed the gradual rise of long distance
trade and towns.
¥In time, with this continual ÒurbanizationÓ
and the solidifying of trade networks, a new
class developed Òin betweenÓ the other
¥ÒThose who sellÓ the merchant class.
Merchant class characteristics:
static. One could rise through wealth.
¥ Focus on the individual and Merit: through work
and ability one could change oneÕs lot in life.
¥ Urban: cities are (again) the focus of life.
¥ Symbols of wealth: clothing, houses, and
entertainment were all chosen to display and
celebrate the success of the new class.
¥ Practical people, who would pay for practical
education, and Òreal worldÓ answers.
This socio-economic shift
coincided with, and also
fostered, an important
intellectual shift: from
medieval scholasticism to
Growing objections to
¥Rules of logic artificially constrained
¥In pursuing transcendent truth, scholastics
had little to say about important issues of
this life, and this world.
How has our view of the
Renaissance changed since
Petrarch: ÒFather of Renaissance
XBorn near Florence,
spent most of his career
in political exile.
XConvinced that Darkness
fell on Europe when the
name of Christ was
publicly celebrated in
XPious Christian, Priest.
• A “Curriculum Revision” of the medieval form of learning.
• Medieval Universities taught:
– Trivium: Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic
– Quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music.
• To this basic framework Humanists added special emphases on:
– Grammar (the building blocks of language)
– Rhetoric (how to use language practically and skillfully)
– Poetry (the most sublime use of language, for conveying the
– History (the story of mankind, no longer “sacred history” only)
– Moral Philosophy (how mankind should act in the world)
Studia Humanitatis (cont.)
¥ Began among independent scholars, in courts
of merchants and nobility, not in the
¥ Seen as a threat by those at the university.
¥ Gradually infiltrated the universities (e.g.
¥ Today it still shapes our university systems (we
call the same program ÒLiberal Arts.Ó)
Types of Humanists:
DActive: Interested in ÒcivicÓ matters, how
the political reality of the city should be
DContemplative: The ÒBookishÓ humanists -
- concerned with scholarship and literature.
DThese represent two poles of a continuum,
most humanists were of mixed interests.
Characteristics of Northern
X Less concerned with the
idea of Òcity-statesÓ and
X Ancient pagan Rome is
much less of an ideal.
X More exclusively concern
with Christianity and the
X Church ÒReformÓ was
very much at the heart of
X Epitomized by Desiderius
From the article:
“Rebirth of classical studies,” or recovery
of classical knowledge and perspective, is “the most
obvious aspect of humanism.”
Note that both “secular” and “humanist”
were categories of Christian thought in their
What is meant by the return to
XThe origins of any idea or thing contain its
foundations -- the Òpure kernelÓ of what it is
XWhat is meant by the return to the
Òprimordial knowledge of man?Ó
XThe farther upstream you go, the closer you
are to the spring.
XÒEdenÓ was the ultimate golden age.
How did Humanists read texts?
The birth of the critical method:
XSince the texts of the past were authoritative, it
was necessary to get them right.
XErrors of copying or interpretation frequently
developed over a millennium or more of manual
transmission and copying.
XBy comparing texts against each other and against
what was known of history, humanists could
determine the best (earliest) readings.
Example: Lorenzo Valla
disproves the Donation of
XThe Donation of Constantine was a document in
which the Emperor Constantine allegedly gave
most of his possessions and authority to the pope.
XLatin was entirely inappropriate for the fourth
outside historical sources corroborated it.
XLinguistically from the eighth century.
XTherefore it was a forgery, not an authority.
Raiders of the Lost Books
v Recovery of classical
learning meant the
recovery of classical texts.
v Humanism spawned a
search for books that led
across Europe and beyond.
v Led to unprecedented
book production and
copying even prior to the
How did Humanism contribute to
the study of nature?
(Be prepared to discuss this from
AbagnagnoÕs article in the DHI)
The trend of observing the human body and
depicting how it Òactually workedÓ included not only
the interest in accurately drawn medical texts, but
also a parallel interest among artists striving for
accurate portrayals of Òpeople.Ó
A similar trend toward realism applied in
regard to all aspects of the natural world:
In time, the ÒTriumphsÓ of science also
became subjects immortalized in artistic
In addition, ÒscientificÓ demonstrations and
observations secured a place as an element of
¥ Read chapter 3 in this.