The Genesis of Science: The Story of Greek Imagination

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Prometheus Books, Publishers, 2010 - History - 293 pages
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Historians often look to ancient Greece as the wellspring of Western civilization. Perhaps the most ingenious achievement of the Hellenic mind was the early development of the sciences. The names we give to science's many branches today--from physics and chemistry to mathematics, biology, and psychology--echo the Greek words that were first used to define these disciplines in ancient times and remain a testament to the groundbreaking discoveries of these pioneering thinkers. What was it about the Greeks, as opposed to the far older civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and China, that gave rise to the uniquely Western, scientific mindset? This author explores this intriguing question in this authoritative yet accessible and eloquently told story about the origins of science. Going beyond individual Greek discoveries in the various branches of science, Bertman emphasizes why these early investigators were able to achieve what they did. Among the exceptional characteristics of Greek culture that created the seedbed for early science were:
- the Greek emphasis on rationalism--a conviction that human reason could successfully unravel the mysteries of nature and make sense of the cosmos
- an early form of humanism--a pride and confidence in human potential despite the frailty and brief tenure of individual lives
- the drive to excel in every arena from the battlefield to the Olympic games and arts competitions
- an insatiable curiosity that sought understanding of both human nature and the world
- a fierce love of freedom and individualism that promoted freedom of thought--the prelude to science.
Focusing on ten different branches of science, the author shows why the Greeks gravitated to each specialty and explains the fascinating theories they developed, the brilliant experiments they performed, and the practical applications of their discoveries. He concludes by recounting how these early insights and achievements--transmitted over the course of two thousand years--have shaped the scientific attitude that is the hallmark of today's world. This lively narrative captures the Greek genius and demonstrates the indelible influence of their discoveries on modern science and technology.

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from the cover: the Greek emphasis on rationalism-a conviction that human reason could successfully unravel the mysteries of nature and make sense of the cosmos an early form of humanism-a pride and ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

Stephen Bertman, PhD, professor emeritus of classics at Canada's University of Windsor, is the author of seven books, including Doorways through Time (featured by the Natural Science Book Club), The Eight Pillars of Greek Wisdom, Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, and Erotic Love Poems of Greece and Rome.

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