85 - Sky Writing: Astronomy, Astrology, and Philosophy

Ptolemy uses philosophy in the service of studying the stars, while philosophers of all persuasions evaluate the widespread practice of astrology.

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Further Reading: 

• P. Adamson, “Plotinus on Astrology,” Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 35 (2008), 265-91.

• L. Bouché-Leclercq, L’astrologie grecque (Paris: 1899).

• T. Barton, Ancient Astrology (London: Routledge, 1994).

• A.A. Long, “Astrology: Arguments Pro and Contra,” in Science and Speculation: Studies in Hellenistic Theory and Practice, ed. J. Barnes et al (Cambridge: 1982), 165-92.

• O. Neugebauer, Astronomy and History: Selected Essays (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1983).

tommm's picture

Romans, Philosophy, and Science

Thinking about Astrology (now a modern example of sloppy thinking) makes me wonder if there is something that changed as philosophy moved from Greece to Rome. We are often told about ancient Greek scientific and mathematical discoveries, but I don't think of Rome as making many theoretical advances along these lines. Is this reflected in philosophy of Roman times? Was there something in Roman thinking that prevented an Eratosthenes or Archimedes? Thanks!

Peter Adamson's picture

Roman discoveries

Hi there,

I seem to recall that we touched on this in the Cuomo interview so you might take a listen to that; but basically I think the answer is that the Romans liked to think of themselves as more "practical" than the airy fairy Greeks, and excelled in things like engineering and architecture, but in this sphere at least they were really innovative, think for instance of Vitruvius. (There was a good episode of In Our Time about him last year.) 



tommm's picture

Roman discoveries

Thanks Peter.