Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Introduction to Ancient Science

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Classics and Archaeology

DESCRIPTION The study-unit focuses on the period of most intensive innovation in Greek and Roman science (from mid-5th century B.C.E. to the 2nd century A.D.). Students will be presented with a historical perspective which deals in depth the major emergent themes and ideas of scientific interest.

Some of these aspects are the Greek notions of the nature of scientific hypothesis; of evidence; of the role of experiments and thought experiments; of quantification and other such topics.

In addition, the study-unit will also deal with specific scientific theories of the ancient world such as Ptolemaic cosmology, Aristotelian physics and Hippocratic medicine.

The study-unit is divided into two. The first half develops a survey of the major themes and ideas of Ancient science and does not presuppose a knowledge of Classical languages. The second half, delivered concurrently, will deal with key texts related to the discussed themes.

Study-Unit Aims:

- The students are to gain a general understanding of the basic concepts of science and the basic themes of Greek and Roman Science;
- The students are to gain some understanding of the similarities and the differences between modern and ancient science;
- The students will be presented with some of the great works of the ancient world.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Understand the key differences between poetic and scientific thought;
- Understand the role of experiments in ancient science;
- Understand the development of the geometric method, its beauty and its importance;
- Understand the role of teleology and mechanistic explanation in science;
- Understand the role of criticism in science;
- Possess a close familiarity with the major texts of Greek science.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Discuss the major themes of Greek science;
- Read and discuss the major texts of Greek science;
- Appreciate the distinctive traits of key notions of scientific thought and method;
- Compare and contrast Greek and 'modern' science in terms of their ideas and methodologies.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- David Lindberg. The Beginnings of Western Science (2008).
- G.E.R. Lloyd, Early Greek Science: Thales to Aristotle (1974).
- G.E.R. Lloyd, Greek Science after Aristotle (1975).

Supplementary Readings:

- Anne Freire Ashbaugh, Plato's Theory of Explanation: A Study of the Cosmological Account in the Timaeus (1988).
- Jonathan Barnes with Malcolm Schofield and Richard Sorabji, Articles on Aristotle I: Science. (1975).
- Jonathan Barnes, Early Greek Philosophy (1987).
- Jonathan Barnes, Aristotle's Posterior Analytics. (1996).
- F. M. Cornford, Plato's Cosmology (1975).
- Serafina Cuomo. Ancient Mathematics. (2001).
- James Evans, The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy. (1998).
- David Furley, The Greek Cosmologists, I (1987).
- G.S. Kirk, J.E. Raven and M. Schofield, eds., The Presocratic Philosophers (2nd Edition) (1983).
- G.E.R. Lloyd, Magic, Reason, and Experience: Studies in the origins and development of Greek science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979).
- G.E.R.Lloyd, Methods and Problems in Greek Science: Selected Papers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).
- G.E.R. Lloyd, Polarity and Analogy: Two types of argumentation in early Greek Thought (Indianapolis: Hackett Press, 1992/1996).
- Vivian Nutton, Ancient Medicine. (2004).
- Karl Popper, "Back to the Presocratics," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 59: 1-24 (1963) (reprinted in Popper, Conjectures and Refutations, pp. 153-65).
- Gregory Vlastos, Plato's Universe (1975).
- Heinrich Von Staden. Herophilus: The Art of Medicine in Early Alexandria. (1989).


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Examination (2 Hours) SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Jurgen R. Gatt

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.