file 2 - Book notes: A Short History of
Scientific Ideas by Charles Singer.
This is a continuation of handwritten notes begun May 2022.
IV - The Failure of Inspiration
P.103 "under Stoicism we get either a type of exact but intellectually motiveless observation, or a rejection of all knowledge not of practical importance."
p.106 "VARO (116-27 B.C.) wrote and encyclopedia of the sciences... he distinguished nine such disciplines, namely grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, music, medicine, and architecture. Of these the last two were not recognised by the later Latin writers..." I pause to consider that each of these 'disciplines' mean to me; one might not immediately consider medicine to be important per-se, if not on regular medication, or in that profession, but when employing the term more widely, such as under considerations of ones own Wellbeing, which I think is of great importance to conisder and employ daily, the discipline is vital.
"Astronomy" again. Who thinks about this daily unless of that interest? But perhaps we should be regularly, like that of a religion, imploy our minds to the bigger questions of where we are from, is there life out there, and, how does the universe work? Working our minds in this way can help put into perspective the many trivialities and the mudane we become obsessed with.
p.107 PLINY (A.D. 23-79) produced 'Natural History'. It was drawn from about 2,000 work - most of them now lost...Its erudite, travelled, and industrious author exhibits an interest in natural phenomena that is quite uncontrolled by scientific or critical standards. The main thought that runs through the book is that nature serves man. All things have their 'uses'..." although not only for exploitation as one might suppose (and can be seen done throughout the ages and by others) but as a source of admiration, and inspiration. However "This world of wonder is... effectively without a God and works by rule... Medical plants are treated [in this work] in greatest detail, and he holds that all plants have their own special medical powers."
p.108 SENECA (3 B.C.-A.D. 65) wrote 'Natural Questions'. "It deals chiefly with astronomy, meteorology, and physical geography."
p.111 "[Strabo (born c. 63 B.C.) rejects Thule, and disbelieves in any habitable land as far north as the Arctic Circle. Ireland, the most northerly of known territories, is 'barely habitable on account of the cold'. Southward, he considers the habitable world extends about 3,000 stadia beyond Meroe."
p.112 A survey superintended by the son-in-law of Augustus, VIPSANIUS AGRIPPA (died 12 B.C.) "was rendered possible by the fact that the Empire was well furnished with roads, marked with milestones. [The map of which having indications for the marching of armies.]
p.113 "under Agricola [pronounced Ag-rick-alla], the Roman fleet rounded Britain and proved it to be an island, discovering at the same time the Orcades (Orkney Islands) and coming in sight of 'Thule' (? Shetlands). Yet Tacitus, like Caesar and the elder Pliny, believes that Spain lies to the west of Britain. Like Strabo he described the Pyrenees as running north and south. He goes on to explain the phenomenon of the Midnight Sun - which he brings as far south as the north of Scotland - by telling us that 'the flat extremities of the Earth, casting a low shadow, do not throw the darkness up high, and the night does not reach to the sky and stars'. The statement impliies the view that the earth is a disk with flattened edges. This from a Roman gentleman who had access to the ideas of Aristotle, Hipparchus, Archimedes, and Aratothenes..."
p.114 "The original native medical system was that of a people of the lower culture and devoid of scientific ideas. Interwoven with ideas that trespass on the domain of religion, it possessed that multitude of 'specialist deities' characteristic of the Roman cults. Thus Fever had three tembles in Rome, and was supplicated as the goddess <i>Febris</i> and flatteringly addressed as 'Divine Fever', 'Holy Fever', 'Great Goddess Fever'...
"The entire external aspect of Roman medicine was gradually transformed by the advent of Greek science [although] the change hardly penetrated below the upper classes. [Sometimes I wonder if this is a front; such as royal familites or key players in the world secretly still employing such things as astrology in a serious manner.] "Thus many references in <i>City of God</i> by St. Augustus (354-430) show the ancient beliefs still current in the Italy of his day, After the fall of the Empire, they lingered among the barbaric peoples..." [This could also be suggested regarding such things that are outlawed amongst the masses by the elite, whilst they themselves still practice/believe in them. This can be especially considered when one wonders why is becomes such a both, say, to the church if someone believes in magic; if it's "not real" then why the concern?]
An interesting point about the Hippocratic Oath: "I will reckon him who taught me this Art as dear to me as those who bore me. I will look upon his offspring as my own brethren and will teach them this Art, if they would learn it, [u]without fee or stipulation[/u]... I will impart a knowledge of this art to my own sons, and to those of my teacher, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and an oath, according to the Law of Medicine, [u]but to none other[/u]." [my emphasis]. Talk about 'keeping it in the family'. That modern day medicine is accessible to all, especially her in the UK with our NHS, this oath seem to be referring to some other art... or perhaps it is! What if 'the medicine' we mere mortals of the lower class is not the thing those elites have access to, or are privy to. It's akin to a secret society.
p.115 ASCLEPIADES of Bithynia (died c.40 B.C.) "influenced deeply later medical thought, ridiculed, and perhaps we should add misunderstood, the Hippocratic attitude of relying on... 'the healing power of nature', which he regarded as a mere 'meditation on death;, and urged that active measures were needed for the press of cure."
p.115 cont. The "Roman medical curriculum [lacked] any practical study of anatomy [which, when we consider their] indifference to human life... considering their brutality to slaves... [and] the value - obvious to us - of anatomical knowledge for surgical practice [particularly] the organization of the military medical service of the Empire, it is highly significant that the knowledge of antiquity was thus allowed [as it was] to lapse." [It seems pecuiliar to me how our modern-day medical industry appears to exist to prolong the lifes of individuals, people who, seemingly in the grand scheme of things are "nothing". Why does the system care? I suggest perhaps it doesn't. Perhaps it's all a front, because I find it odd that that individuals fight to save the lives of others, when, for example, another creature is left dead at the side of the road after it has been struck by a vehicle. Why are we so important?
p.116 TO BE CONTINUED...
End of file 2 - Last updated: 31/05/22