Saturday, 6 February 2010

Before The World Was Flat...

This is going to be a really short one I'm afraid as I'm currently working and paused to share this with you all. I'm sat transcribing my tutorial (I recorded us talking about stuff - it was a damn good plan) so I can have all the notes written down to refer to and it got to a part where were were talking about the Greeks and geometry and how they used it to work out the world was a sphere. Turns out that story about Christopher Columbus discovering the world was round rather than flat was a lie! I feel cheated. Part of me kind of wonders what the point of school (as in high school) even was you know, they didn't teach us anything and when they did teach us things it was a lie and they totally had us believing Britain were the saviours of the planet or something big and British - with all the look at us and our spirit. Ok that's just in history classes that last bit I guess, but still. In fact, I feel a rant about secondary schools in Britain may be in order. Just not today. This is me making a note of it.

They saw the shadow of the Earth on the Moon during a lunar eclipse was round. And they used the stars rising and falling to work it out too.

Plato used geometry (which he had mass love for) to tell us the sun, moon and planets would all have a natural circular motion.
Ok so we know the sun doesn't orbit anything now, but still - be impressed!

They even worked out how big the Earth had to be.
And when eclipses and other cosmology related events would happen.

I started researching this so I could share with you how awesome the Ancient Greeks were, but I should instead be writing my essay. I am like a super procrastinator, yet it's all somehow disguised to look like it's still work.... well I'm reading about Plato, so it still counts... only, that's not really true now is it? Sorry this entry isn't really up there with the awesomeness that is [SuperPennie] but I just needed to share my findings with someone and there's no one to talk to at 5.40am about this and I was far too excited to just keep it to myself.

You know, it kind of upset me that I wasn't an Ancient Greek. But I guess, being a girl I wouldn't have been able to go to any of those schools of thought and studied with all the lads anyway. Pretty sure only rich men or little boys the rich men could look after got to go to school. But I don't actually know how true that statement is.


  1. Most of what we learnt in secondary school was a lie, I suppose. Christopher Columbus probably wasn't the one who discovered America as well though it's still disputable. Maybe the British were saviours of the planet in some ways. I can't deny the fact that they have contributed a lot to the human civilisation.

    I am not sure whether the ancient Greeks were really 'awesome' since most of what they said was some kind of bullshit such as the theory of Forms and all that stuff. But without the Greeks, we would be nothing.

    I suppose they didn't have to be rich to go to schools, but I am sure that they had to look 'beautiful'.


  2. @William: Woah woah woah. No. I disagree. The Greeks weren't always talking bullshit. And the theory of Forms is just Plato isn't it?
    Ok, on the surface a lot of what they're all talking about seems silly to us - but we have 2000 years of science on them. Well, not that's a lie. We lost a lot in the dark ages and when the Christians were burning books...
    But still, considering they just had their eyes and sticks and stones they were damn cool. Parmenides changed the way people think forever! Ok, so he may have also thrown empirical science off track for a few hundred years thanks to his rational enquiry of being but I think being is one of the important subjects. I think it's important we know 'us'. I think the Greeks dealt with stuff like that. Like, they were interested in understanding stuff beyond just what we can see.

    And not only did they practically invent science and philosophy (though did the Aztecs and Mayans come before the Greeks? They were pretty advanced too so I don't know) they were also artists. They gave us theatre. I have a lot of love for the Ancient Greeks. Not so much love for the modern Greeks, but they ancients do make me happy.

    I think they are saying more than you might realise. Just because you don't agree, doesn't mean what they're saying is bullshit. In the case of science-y things like aether then sure, science moved on. But they were asking the same philosophical questions we're still asking. Well, that some philosophers are still asking. British and American philosophy is too wrapped up in analytics to really do anything.

  3. I am using the word 'bullshit' in a rather loose sense. Perhaps I shouldn't have used that word. I admit that the ancient Greeks were really important and our civilisation has owed much to them. For example, Plato's theory of forms. I don't think the world of forms exists, but it is important in the sense that it may be considered the prototype of our genetic theories. What I am saying is that the invention of the idea of 'forms' was quite unnecessary.

    I agree with you that they invented science and philosophy. And the Greeks definitely came before the Mayans and Aztecs. They gave us theatre. They introduced us to comedy and tragedy. They have shaped our political systems (though it was quite different from the concept of modern democracy). What I intended to say was that some of the things they said are no longer accurate. But their ideas are important in the sense that they have shaped our thoughts.

    There is also another interesting question concerning the pursuit of happiness. The ancient Greeks thought happiness could be obtained by individual effort but the reality suggests that our happiness greatly depends on sheer luck. But I do find their idea of virtue and stuff quite inspiring.

    I probably love Greek philosophy as much as you do and I think they have profoundly influenced the western civilisation. Without the Greeks, we would be nothing.

    But I think the analytic tradition is immensely important. It has revolutionised the way we use our language and it helps us to think clearly on most matters. I think this is a big problem for European philosophy, especially the German philosophy, as most European philosophers are in the habit of inventing terminologies and jargons which doesn't help us to think clearly at all!

    I totally agree with you on the ancient Greeks. It's just that I think most of their metaphysical beliefs were unnecessary.


  4. Pointing beings in a different direction for a couple of hundred of years makes me laugh,So oh dear other philosophers had to think that little harder and also not just them but us as well because they never reached an answer to the meaning of life.And I ever doubt we ever will arh but it's fun hearing every bodies theories it's brilliant,I have had a many people laugh at my amoeba theory and then on the other hand can turn into a serious discussion when I go deeper.The Ancient greeks (Though Woman were not allowed)&(Though they wouldn't have listened to us because we would have made sense)They were truly remarkable not just for being a thinker like your good self but for still giving us conversation to this day(Psst I still think they wouldn't have lead us up the garden path if there was a female philosopher in with the "Group of thinker's" but maybe that's what they wanted to do, Hmm Who's to say that their thinking wasn't from their loved one's and they went back to Man school and repeated some of these womanies<.Alas words of an insignificant female will never be heard as it is now on this beautiful planet but ignorant of it's contents.
    I adore your thoughts and know there is so much more you want to say and I hope you do so.I love rants I only wish I would rant some more on my blog I also think thats when I make a bit more sense.I just had a rant about my maths teacher on mine.Good day to your good self.x【˘‿˘】