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The Ancient Elements of Nature
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The Ancient Elements of Nature
writes: A question for the opinionated .... Is the ancient classification of nature into the "elements of nature" (ie: fire, water, air and earth) (AEON) considered to be any form of 'proto-science'? email@example.com wrote: Sure - the capacity for reducing a complex environment into a smaller set of fundamental considerations has its benefits in the area of "quickness" of thinking. That the specific explanation used didn't get anywhere, isn't that important. The pattern of thinking, yes, this is important. Mountain Man writes: The specific explanation (ie: some kind of ancient reductionism to "elements" of earth, water, air and fire) would appear to have no successors, and in that, would seem a remnant explanation, discarded, as it were, along the scientific/reductionist highway. firstname.lastname@example.org writes: I wouldn't quite say so. We shouldn't get to attached to words, as words change their meanings over time. Same as our atoms are not an equivalent of the "atoms" of Democritos, our elements are not the equivalent of the Greek elements. I would say that their elements correspond closely to our "states of matter" and as such they are in use till today. Only, "states of matter" is a classificatory scheme, not an explanatory one. Mountain Man writes: However, I think there is something to be considered here which goes a little deeper than the intellectual consideration of the explanation. I'd put forard a suggestion and see your response: This "redundant" world_view was actually embraced - independently it would seem - by most, if not all, of the scattered tribes of man right back into pre-history. And it would appear that, aided by the influence of Aristotle et al, this world_view was then perpetuated as part of the "classical" world. In fact, as you would be no doubt aware, the displacement of this ancient world_view did not occur until the gradual rise of atomic chemistry and the analytical knowledge of the "states of matter" were published and communicated to the world. Thus, I would suggest that the remnant value in this world view may be gleaned by asking the question "Why did this world_view last so long? Why was it as it was and not different? Mati summarises: Solid, liquid, gas, plasma. They are the same everywhere. Mountain Man writes: What benefits did it bring to its subscribers, email@example.com writes: The warm feeling of "understanding the world. Mountain Man writes: and what were its limitations?" firstname.lastname@example.org writes: Just that it didn't really contribute to understanding. Or rather to what science (and mankind in general) care about the most, predictive power. Classifications are very nice as a first step but eventually we would like to be able to predict what may happen under given circumstances, not just generate post-mortems. .... Mountain Man writes: Well, I think that our agreement on the first point ensures that there is enough common ground inherent in the reductionist ideas and patterns of ideas, which prompted the appearance of this ancient world_view in the very first place, and its development and promulgation down through the long ages of time. email@example.com writes: Agreed. Mountain Man writes: So I guess it just boils down to some form of common assessment of the "remnant value" of this old-world paradigm. firstname.lastname@example.org writes: As I see it, it was an early step in a long and ongoing journey and it wasn't a wasted step. Patterns of thought are important even if specific thoughts turn out to be dead ends. Mati Meron | "When you argue with a fool, email@example.com | chances are he is doing just the same"