Friday, July 29, 2005

Another of those History Repeats

The ancient Greek philosophers accomplished major advances in, well, philosophy, and political theory. They provided a base of scientific knowledge that would be, together with the Romans, the main source of learning until the Rennaissance and Enlightenment scientists and philosophers. There are, however, two very similar sets of events both in classical Greece and later in Rennaissance Europe. In Greece Socrates was one of the early great philosophers. Eventually the Athenian Republic grew suspicious of him and charged him with accusations such as spreading heresy. One of Socrates' students, Plato, grew disillusioned of this and soon broke away from Athens. In part because of his anger Plato wrote a series of works, many or all of which had Socrates in them as a character. Some of these works were also written in dialogue form.

Around 2000 years later Copernicus pushed the idea of a sun-centered solar system. He died shortly after his works were published and therefore did not see much of the hurricane that followed. The Church, firmly entrenched in the Ptolemaic model of the Universe, led a campaign to batter down the Copernican model. Still the new model attracted followers among the new wave of scientists adhering to the scientific method. One of these was Galileo. His Dialogue sparked intense anger in the Pope and caused the inquisition of the astronomer shortly afterwards.

Both Plato and Galileo then each had their own "patrons", each published works that were based partly on these patrons' ideas. Ironically, the Copernican model goes against the Greek originated Ptolemaic model.

1 comment:

The Sovereign Editor said...

Socrates charged with "accusations such as spreading heresy"

I believe one of the specific charges was 'corrupting the youth' (presumably by spreading heresy).

To those of us who revere Socrates as a great thinker, the idea of him being arrested and sentenced to death for corrupting the youth seems humorous.