Ancient Worlds, Modern Reflections: Philosophical by G. E. R. Lloyd

By G. E. R. Lloyd

Geoffrey Lloyd's pioneering booklet makes use of a examine of historic Greek and chinese language technology and tradition to throw mild on primary difficulties, either highbrow and ethical, that we nonetheless face at the present time. the problems variety from the controversy approximately realism and relativism in philosophy of technology to doubts about the common applicability of the discourse of human rights. Lloyd presents compelling proof that old civilizations have a lot to supply modern debates in lots of fields of study.

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Extra resources for Ancient Worlds, Modern Reflections: Philosophical Perspectives on Greek and Chinese Science and Culture

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The emphasis is, again, on the resonances between interdependent phases of ongoing processes. The obvious moral of that story, too, is that the understanding of physical events and changes in China—Chinese physics if some care to call it that—was fundamentally different from that favoured for many centuries (but no longer today) in the West. My argument in this chapter thus far has been that there are important basic differences in the definitions of individual disciplines and in the understanding of the relations between them, as between different cultures and especially as between ancient China and Greece.

Thus far we may compare other mathematical traditions where there is a similar focus, at least on the surface, on practical problems: ancient Egyptian Carving out Territories | 29 and Babylonian arithmetic, for instance, or the discussion of problems of mensuration in Hero of Alexandria (see Høyrup 2002). Yet the strategic goals of the Nine Chapters are certainly not adequately captured by treating it as a practical manual. We shall be coming back, in Chapter 9, to analyse how concrete examples are used to illuminate general problems, one of the distinctive features of the style of mathematical reasoning it displays.

At the same time, in all three, the closest attention was paid to what was happening in the heavens themselves—even if many of the exceptional events noticed by the ancient Chinese passed unremarked by the ancient Greeks, in part, no doubt, because of their expectation that the heavens should exhibit exceptionless order. The regularities in the movements of the heavenly bodies came to be more fully understood and to be predictable, eclipse cycles were determined, the calendar regularized, the patterns of planetary motions plotted, sometimes by using purely arithmetical methods, sometimes also by geometrical ones.

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