By G. E. R. Lloyd
Geoffrey Lloyd's pioneering booklet makes use of a examine of historical Greek and chinese language technological know-how and tradition to throw gentle on basic difficulties, either highbrow and ethical, that we nonetheless face this present day. the problems variety from the controversy approximately realism and relativism in philosophy of technology to doubts about the common applicability of the discourse of human rights. Lloyd presents compelling proof that old civilizations have a lot to supply modern debates in lots of fields of study.
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Extra resources for Ancient Worlds, Modern Reflections: Philosophical Perspectives on Greek and Chinese Science and Culture
However in the opening chapter of his astrological treatise, the Tetrabiblos, Ptolemy clearly distinguishes between two types of predictive study. On the one hand there are predictions concerning the movements of the heavenly bodies themselves (in our terms, astronomy) and on the other the use of those phenomena as the basis for predicting events on earth (astrology). He claimed that astrology was based on tried and tested experience. But the contrast with astronomy was not simply that astrology is conjectural, while astronomy can lay claims to demonstration, but also in terms of what the predictions were about.
But the astrologer was a mathematikos just as much as the astronomer (and it was usually the same individuals who pursued both studies). The Chinese deﬁnitions of the subjects they were concerned with, and of their interrelations, differ both from the modern, and from the ancient Greek, views. Take the example of the study of di li (‘earth 1 Cf. above Ch. 2 n. 4 with the reference to Lloyd 1991: 18. 2 Many modern scholars have looked for, and failed to ﬁnd, a science of geography in pre-modern China, where what that summons up are studies devoted to exact topographical descriptions, if not also to the mathematical solution of the cartographic problems of planar projection of a spherical world.
The evident mismatch between these categories and those we might be tempted to apply is striking. To start with, shu shu spans a number of different subject areas that fall either side of the division that we might tend to stress, between ‘mathematics’ and ‘physics’. Again divination and prediction ﬁgure in various sub-classes, and not all their forms are included in the category of shu shu. The Yijing or Book of Changes and the works dealing with its interpretation do not ﬁgure under shu shu, but in another main category of works devoted to the classics.