Friday, June 13, 2008

Aristotle - Hindering Science?

I recently finished reading the book, Politics, by Aristotle. Though I certainly respect the guy, the one thing that really struck me about the book was something I thought did not reflect well on him.

I had always heard that Aristotle taught kind of a "moderation in all things" philosophy, which seemed to me to be a pretty good plan, but then I read the book and discovered that when he talked about "moderation in all things" he basically meant ALL things. He struck me as being kind of an extremist about moderation, so to speak.

Everything was going fine until the last section of the book, where he discusses education. One of his examples of a subject that should be on the curriculum of every good citizen is music. Okay, fine. But, he said, the citizen of a community should learn just enough about playing music to amuse himself and his friends during leisure times. He shouldn't try to become a really good musician because becoming excellent in such skills is only for servants, not for full citizens. So, in other words, being really excellent at any art or craft is for inferiors and is not worthy of those who are full citizens.

Ouch! No wonder the Industrial Revolution did not begin with the Greeks. No wonder their science was mostly theoretical. Those who say that science began during the Renaissance when people began throwing out Christian thinking and rediscovering Greek thinking are full of prunes! Undoubtedly Greek thinking was a big factor, but taken as a whole, if Aristotle is indicative of Greek thinking, I believe Greek thinking was as much a hinderance as a help to the rise of science.


Unknown said...

I've read almost all of your writings, and I have to say I feel sincere pity for you. Really.

Brad said...

Well, thanks Ottis. At least someone reads this stuff. ;-)