Culture, Technology and Knowledge


We face three interrelated questions. First, is science uniquely the product of post-mediaeval Western Europe? Second, if not, where (and when) else did it arise — and why do we never hear about it? Third, if the naturalistic learning of Classical Greece was not science, how did it come to exert such a profound influence on the emergence of science in Europe 1,800 years or more afterwards? To tackle these questions, we first need to examine: (1) the relationship between knowledge or belief and culture, and (2) the routes by which Classical learning reached late mediaeval Europe.

Ways of knowing in all cultures share common features (sensory experience, memory, generalisation, mastery of skills, search for cause-effect relationships, etc.) because they are all human; but each is also distinctive. By definition, different cultures arise in different environments, each with its particular history. Tropical desert dwellers are unlikely to have knowledge and beliefs about polar bears or snow, but they are likely to know a good deal about sand, dehydration and scorpions. In the modern developed world, a hill farmer has different knowledge and beliefs from, say, a city accountant.


Polar Bear Ancient Civilisation Steam Engine Hill Farmer Naturalistic Thought 
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