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Science before SocratesParmenides, Anaxagoras, and the New Astronomy$
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Daniel Graham

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199959785

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199959785.001.0001

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The Geometry of the Heavens

The Geometry of the Heavens

Chapter:
(p.227) Chapter 7 The Geometry of the Heavens
Source:
Science before Socrates
Author(s):

Daniel W. Graham

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199959785.003.0007

The discovery of heliophotism and antiphraxis makes sense in a narrative of astronomical development from Thales to Aristotle and beyond. There is no reason not to recognize Anaxagoras as the founder of scientific astronomy. The main argument against him is that his is not a mathematical theory and hence not scientific. But (a) being mathematical is a sufficient but not a necessary condition for a theory’s being scientific, and (b) the theory is in any case geometrical and hence mathematical. If the preceding account is correct, there are at least two theories which were established as true in the early fifth century BC that have survived to prove themselves as the only sound theories in their domain for almost 2,500 years. There is, accordingly, inductive evidence that science is cumulative and progressive after all, and to believe that science can accurately explain the world.

Keywords:   History of science, Galileo, Parmenides, Anaxagoras, geometry

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