I'm Greek and I'm proud!

Greek Science

From Documents in World History, Volume I - The Great Traditions: From Ancient Times to 1500, 1988, by Peter N. Stearns, S.S. Gosh, J.P. Anglin and E.P. Grieshaber.

One of the leading features of Greek culture, and of the later Hellenistic world in the Middle East and North Africa, was the attempt to explain the physical world in purely rational terms. Greek science, which brought dramatic progress in the fields of m edicine, physics, astronomy, and mathematics, required a strict methodology based on logic, which could extend empirical data gained from observation into more general laws about nature's workings. More than Asian scientists of the classical period and la ter, the Greeks insisted on generalizing. More than modern scientific practitioners, they favored the deductive approach over the inductive.

Greek and Hellenistic science built on the work of many outstanding figures, but it was most deeply indebted to Aristotle (383-322 BC), who formulated logic into a discipline while gathering and categorizing a host of observations about nature. Aristo tle accepted the notion that the spherical earth was the stationary center of the universe and that all the planets and stars moved uniformly in perfect circles around it. Hiss errors here were accepted in Western science until the sixteenth century, so p owerful was the example of Greek thought. But while Aristotle's facts were wrong, his argument was exceedingly important, for it showed the power of the rationalist concept; this too would be a heritage for later centuries.

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Anything that Greeks didn't invent, they thought of. Indeed, Greek science brought dramatic progress in many scientific fields, even if it was more theoretical than practical. That's why many Greek theories in physics, math, astronomy and medicine hold, in one form or another, up until today. Others were not disproved until the late 16th century, simply because the reasoning behind them was logic and methodical thinking ("Who am I to disprove Socrates?"). And don't forget the Hippocratical Oath that al l doctors today have to follow. That's yet another example of solid Greek philosophy that is still shaping our moral values.