"Bertman is an unabashed admirer of the ancient Greeks, and his depiction of their scientific accomplishments gives readers a reason to share his admiration.”
"Bertman’s narrative is a sweeping and energetic tale of the history of science. Drawing authentic and compelling connections between ancient and modern science, he shows with sensitivity and affection, and without any trace of pedantry, how Greek science, after two and a half millennia, continues to inspire, to inform, and even to be our science of the twenty-first century."
—Georgia L. Irby-Massie, associate professor of classics
The College of William and Mary
Coeditor, The Encyclopedia of Ancient Natural Scientists
Historians often look to ancient Greece as the wellspring of Western civilization. Perhaps the most ingenious achievement of the Hellenic mind was the early development of the sciences. The names we give to science’s many branches today—from physics and chemistry to mathematics, biology, and psychology—echo the Greek words that were first used to define these disciplines in ancient times and remain a testament to the groundbreaking discoveries of these pioneering thinkers.
What was it about the Greeks, as opposed to the far older civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and China, that gave rise to the uniquely Western, scientific mindset?
Stephen Bertman explores this intriguing question in this authoritative yet accessible and eloquently told story about the origins of science. Going beyond individual Greek discoveries in the various branches of science, Bertman emphasizes why these early investigators were able to achieve what they did. Among the exceptional characteristics of Greek culture that created the seedbed for early science were:
- the Greek emphasis on rationalism—a conviction that human reason could successfully unravel the mysteries of nature and make sense of the cosmos
- an early form of humanism—a pride and confidence in human potential despite the frailty and brief tenure of individual lives
- the drive to excel in every arena from the battlefield to the Olympic games and arts competitions
- an insatiable curiosity that sought understanding of both human nature and the world
- a fierce love of freedom and individualism that promoted freedom of thought—the prelude to science.
Focusing on ten different branches of science, Bertman shows why the Greeks gravitated to each specialty and explains the fascinating theories they developed, the brilliant experiments they performed, and the practical applications of their discoveries. He concludes by recounting how these early insights and achievements—transmitted over the course of two thousand years—have shaped the scientific attitude that is the hallmark of today’s world.
Bertman’s lively narrative captures the Greek genius and demonstrates the indelible influence of their discoveries on modern science and technology.
FURTHER PRAISE FOR THE GENESIS OF SCIENCE
"Modern science isn't just built on gifts from the Greeks, it is Greek to the core. In The Genesis of Science, Stephen Bertman demonstrates this core principle by breathing life into the ancient Greeks and skillfully tracing their contribution to a wide variety of disciplines, which, though altered, retain the Greek ideal and all that came with it. Moreover, Bertman does so with a humanistic, visually enhanced flair that makes the story accessible to a wide audience in an age of fear, distrust, and misunderstanding of science's goals and methods. We need more books like this one."
—Anthony F. Aveni, Russell Colgate Distinguished University Professor
of Astronomy, Anthropology, and Native American Studies, Colgate University
"An eager and passionate, stimulating and challenging tale of how in ancient Greece the mythic imagination gave way to the restless curiosity and imaginative power of science, this book is an extended argument that the scientific outlook, now so widespread, was pervasive in ancient Greek thought. "
—Paul T. Keyser, PhD, IBM T. J. Watson Research Center,
Coeditor The Encyclopedia of Ancient Natural Scientists
Pages: 293 (Illustrations)
Shipping Weight: 2lbs
Stephen Bertman, PhD, professor emeritus of classics at Canada’s University of Windsor, is the author of seven books, including Doorways through Time (featured by the Natural Science Book Club), The Eight Pillars of Greek Wisdom, Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, and Erotic Love Poems of Greece and Rome.