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The eighth chapter focuses on the thought of Jurjānī to understand later developments in the occasionalist tradition. Jurjānī was one of the most important Ashʿarite theologians who transformed occasionalism from a theory of causality into the central axis of all theological thinking. The notion of possibility made central by Ashʿarite occasionalism became the modus operandi for thinking about questions from prophetology and eschatology to theodicy and free will. More importantly, Jurjānī develops a critical philosophy of science to appropriate and criticize Aristotelian-Ptolemaic-Avicennian natural philosophy/sciences. An examination of this attempt reveals the complex relationship of Ashʿarite occasionalism with medieval natural philosophy and sciences.
Rhetorical education – specifically, the advent of the progymnasmata, or preliminary rhetorical exercises – taught students how to be Greek, and it appears to have been the root of many Hellenistic innovations in both art and literature. The wealthy and elite backgrounds of some Greek artists enabled them to be well educated, and their intellectualism aided their adult pursuits in oratory, teaching, and scholarship, not to mention art. Kings and courtiers, too, received Greek rhetorical educations, which allowed them to appreciate the rhetorically informed art in the courts. The courts also played a role in Hellenistic artistic production by drawing Greek artists around the ancient Mediterranean. The result of all this seems to be a standardization of Greek art that is analogous to a linguistic koine.
When the modern spectator tries to work out the imagery on the Archelaos Relief (Fig. 3.1), she quickly realizes that it thwarts a straightforward interpretation. Consisting of a lower interior scene surmounted by an upper mountainous landscape, the Archelaos Relief produces a constructed space that looks quite different from most ancient representations of the real world. The relief’s directed composition, moreover, draws the spectator’s eye up and down through its many levels, zigzag or boustrophedon fashion. And, what is more, the relief explicitly announces its rhetorical technique. For not only does it name an artist, Archelaos of Priene, it also glosses the figures in its bottom scene: personifications of abstract concepts.
Chapter 3 gives an account of the transmission of Islamicate meteorology into Northern and Western Europe. An early phase was the collection and study of the texts known as the Alchandrean Corpus, which provided short introductions to topics within astronomy and mathematics. The chapter then considers twelfth-century translations of more advanced works, and especially of treatises on weather-forecasting. The contributions of Petrus Alfonsi, and the reception of Latin translations of Arabic versions of the works of Ptolemy, are discussed. The chapter argues that it was this period that saw the creation of Latin, Christian forms of astrologically based weather forecasting. Moreover, this was no transitory fashion, and the new, astrometeorology remained dominant until the seventeenth century. Central to this new science was the application of fundamental works by Ptolemy, and this is considered in detail. The final part of the chapter gives an outline of the works of Islamicate astrometeorology that were translated into Latin, and especially of the theories of al-Kindi. The conclusion is that Latin writers and translators searched out works on weather forecasting, and rapidly began to produce their own versions.
This chapter looks at Greek and Roman approaches to climate and weather, showing how geographers, astronomers, and physicians organised and understood geographical differences, and the consequences of those differences for agriculture, navigation, and even human physiology and disease. In some sources, very broad generalisations were made based on latitude alone, and in others variation was handled on a much more local basis. Long-term prediction of local weather was seen as an important task and utilised methods from astronomy, astrology, and folklore alike.
Over the past decade, anthropogenic climate change has encouraged authors and readers to confront new modes of imagining time, selfhood, and narrative and to reassess the relationships among experiential, historical, and climatological time. In Western literary culture, historical and climatological time traditionally have seemed one and the same. Working within the 5000-year time frame of biblical history, writers envisioned a world that, since the sixth day of creation, always has been inhabited and therefore always had been shaped and reshaped by humans. In this worldview, ‘nature’ is always a product of anthropogenic intervention. Beginning around 1800, however, work in geology, planetary astronomy, and palaeontology transformed conceptions of climate by decoupling planetary history from human experience, memory, and myth. In giving narrative form to the collision of experiential and climatological time, Anthropocene fiction explores the problem that science fiction often seems more ‘realistic’ than traditional narrative realism.
The ancient Greek mathematician Eudoxus developed a model for the motion of the Sun, Moon, and planets in which each body was carried around on a series of nested spheres that were all centered on Earth. Eudoxus’ geocentric model was incorporated into the highly successful cosmology of Aristotle. However, this model was unable to account accurately for the observed motions of the planets. Later astronomers such as Hipparchus and Ptolemy developed a new set of models in which each planet is carried around a circular epicycle, which in turn is carried around a circular deferent with its center near the Earth. Ptolemy even used these models to estimate distances to each planet. Although these models were quite accurate, they did suffer from some problems and were criticized or modified by medieval scholars.
The ancient sources for the location of Thule are reviewed.1 It is suggested that the identification of the Shetland Isles as Thule was an error by Agricola. The identification was then accepted by Ptolemy, who moved Thule from the more northerly location implied by Pytheas’ account to the site of the Shetland Isles. This would account for his description of Thule/Shetland as one island. The coincident location of Ptolemy's Thule with Shetland suggests that the Roman fleet did see the islands. The emendations of Wolfson relating to Thule are examined and rejected. There is no evidence that Agricola's fleet landed in Shetland.
Christian contact with the Sethian Gnostics must have occurred rather early, for by 125 CE one finds Basilides of Alexandria expounding a sophisticated and completely Christian Gnostic theological system. His younger contemporary, Valentinus, likewise developed a wholly Christian Gnostic theology, which reached a high level of sophistication in the work of his pupil Ptolemaeus. One of the first things to strike a reader of Gnostic literature is the vast number of metaphysical entities. One such is the Apocryphon of John that is an early example of what may be called classic Sethian Gnosticism. The Christian philosopher and earliest commentator on early Christian writings Basilides of Alexandria was, in the words of Hegel, 'one of the most distinguished Gnostics'. Ptolemy was described by St Irenaeus as 'the blossom of Valentinus' school'. The last mention of late-antique Gnosticism is to be found in a seventh-century Christian canon prohibiting certain sects, of which that of the Valentinians is mentioned by name.
Klaudios Ptolemaios, or Ptolemy, is known today mainly for his contributions to astronomy and astrology. According to Ptolemy, only the mathematician produces knowledge and attains a virtuous state. Ptolemy's extant corpus contains only one text that is devoid of mathematics: On the Kritērion and Hēgemonikon. In this short epistemological treatise, Ptolemy outlines his criterion of truth, examines the soul's relation to the body, and determines which parts of the body and soul are the commanding parts. Ptolemy gives his most detailed accounts of the human soul in On the Kritērion and Harmonics 3.5. In On the Kritērion, he describes three faculties of the soul: the faculty of thought, the faculty of sense perception and the faculty of impulse, which, in turn, consists of two parts: the appetitive and emotive. Ptolemy's ethical system is heavily influenced by Platonism, but it strays from the Platonic formulation of what knowledge is and how virtue is attained.
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