Archive for May, 2011

h1

Have evils been performed in the name of science?

May 28, 2011

The Facts

From the 18th century up to the late 20th century, doctors and scientists were repeatedly responsible for numerous inhumane acts carried out on both humans and animals in the name of science.[1] [2] [3]

This does not discredit science as a body of knowledge and method of investigation, but it is a reminder that the special privileges[4] and authority[5] [6] enjoyed by scientists are easily abused and require external restraint.[7] [8]

In the 19th and 20th centuries scientists were responsible for racist social and political policies.[9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] Nazi medical atrocities prompted formulation of the ‘Nuremberg Code’, intended to restrain scientists and doctors.[17]

However, atrocities in the name of science continued despite the Code, which was disregarded by many medical scientists, [18] [19] [20] and it became clear researchers could not be trusted to act humanely without coercion by the state.[21] The Code has had little impact in practice.[22] [23] [24]

The Authority of Science

A 1961 experiment proved the average person will obey an authority figure even to the extent of inflicting extreme physical pain and risk of death. The experiment also proved people are conditioned to obey scientists even if ordered to act inhumanely.[25] [26]

Some scientists have acknowledged the role of science in past atrocities.[27] Others have warned against characterizing scientific atrocities as mere ‘pseudo-science’ unconnected to genuine scientific research,[28] or as the acts of the mentally unstable.[29] [30] [31]


[1] ‘ln fact, history is littered with examples of human abuse in the name of ‘science’.’, Cardwell & Flanagan, ‘Psychology AS: The Complete Companion’, p. 189 (2005).

[2] ‘”In the name of science,” innumerable animals have been vivisected, decerebrated, and tortured in order to produce “objective” data.’, Stenbers, ‘The Invention of Modern Science’, p. 22.3 (2000).

[3] Shannon, ‘Bioethics’, (4th ed. 1993), Annas & Grodin, ‘he Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code: Human Rights in Human Experimentation’ (1995), Hornblum, ‘Acres of Skin: Human Experiments at Holmesburg Prison‘ (1999), Moreno, ‘Undue Risk: Secret State Experiments on Humans‘ (2000), Guerrini, ‘Experimenting With Humans and Animals: From Galen to animal rights’ (2003), Weyers, ‘The Abuse of Man: An illustrated history of dubious medical experimentation’ (2003), Goliszek, ‘In the Name of Science: A History of Secret Programs, Medical Research, and Human Experimentation’ (2003), Washington, ‘Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present ‘ (2008), Cina & Perper, ‘When Doctors Kill’ (2010), Chadwick, Have & Meslin, ‘The SAGE Handbook of Health Care Ethics’ (2011); many protests were also made by doctors and scientists against such atrocities.

[4] ‘But the privilege I would like to emphasize is that which is granted by the courts of law and which establishes the inviobility of the researcher’s right to withhold knowledge from public scrutiny.’, Huff, ‘The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China, and the West’, pp. 9-10 (2003).

[5] ‘The bland and righteous belief among American academics that any degree of invasion of privacy, any degree of public exposure of the human psyche, is justified so long as it is in the name of science rather than, say, the TV industry,’, Nisbet, ‘Project Camelot’ (1966), in Smith & Bender, ‘American Higher Education Transformed, 1940-2005: Documenting the National Discourse’, p. 408 (2008).

[6]Scientists make authoritative decisions in the name of others, such as on behalf of organizations or collective bodies, or in the name of science itself, and have such decisions made about them. Many of these are ‘gatekeeping’ decisions, and indeed the business of gatekeeping is perhaps the primary means of exercising authority in science.’, Turner, ‘Liberal Democracy 3.0: civil society in an age of experts’, p. 85 (2003).

[7] ‘industrialized science, tied as it is to the structure of the state, carries with it dangerous potential.’, Rosenberg & Marcus, ‘The Holocaust as a Test of Philosophy’, in Rosenberg & Myers (eds.), ‘Echoes from the Holocaust: Philosophical Reflections on a Dark Time’, p. 211 (1990).

[8] ‘The state and its various arms can kill, maim or exploit in the name of science.’, Nandy, ‘Science as a Reason of State’, in Abbas & Emi (eds.), ‘Internationalizing Cultural Studies: an anthology’, p. 27 (2005).

[9] ‘The change of perception was largely, if not soley, due to Darwin’s own work on evolution and published in The Origin of the Species (1859), and The Descent of Man (1871). A host of followers applied evolutionary theory to society and to the Aborigines, who were viewed as primitive, stone-age people who were earlier and less evolved than were Europeans.’, Reynolds, ‘An Indelible Stain?’, p. 146 (2001).

[10]The Australian colonists deeply influenced by Social Darwinism had come to accept that, as a consequence of settlement, the indigenous people were dying out and the process would probably continue until it was complete.’, ibid., p. 146.

[11]Scientific theories and arguments were used to support the inferiority of other races, thereby legitimising crimes committed throughout history and all over the world.’, Weigmann, ‘In the name of science’, EMBO reports (2.10. 871). 2001.

[12]Even under social democratic governments, atrocities took place. In Sweden, for example, 63 000 people—including most resident gypsies—were legally sterilised between 1934 and 1975, mainly because of ‘antisocial behaviour’.’, ibid., p. 872.

[13] ‘Along with the methods of mass killing, science also legitimized the ideological basis, or the motivating cause, for mass murder.’, Rosenberg & Marcus, ‘The Holocaust as a Test of Philosophy’, in Rosenberg & Myers (eds.), ‘Echoes from the Holocaust: Philosophical Reflections on a Dark Time’, p. 210 (1990).

[14] ‘The fact that these claims were advanced and even believed in the name of science, and were expounded by scientific authorities, lent a high degree of credence to popular prejudices and made the acceptance of the idea of mass extermination so much easier for a large number of people.’, ibid., p. 210.

[15] ‘Never did they fake an expert report to save someone’s life.’, Weigmann, ‘In the name of science’, EMBO reports (2.10. 872). 2001.

[16] ‘In the past it was scientists who interpreted racial differences as the justification to murder.’, ibid., p. 874.

[17] ‘The second half of the twentieth century saw a strong movement toward public regulation of experiments on human beings and animals. In the case of human experimentation, initial impetus came from the exposure of atrocities performed in the name of science on the inmates of Nazi concentration camps.’, Guerrini, ‘Experimenting With Humans and Animals: From Galen to animal rights’, p. 137 (2003).

[18] ‘In the 1960s, however, it came to public attention that medical researchers in the United States and the United Kingdom violated the rights of human subjects routinely and with impunity.’, ibid., p. 137.

[19] ‘The established ethical controls did not work, because doctors and researchers had so many personal incentives to pursue what they believed to be important scientific objectives. The classical ethical virtues of a good doctor, as well as the ethical rules of ancient and modern codes, were both simply ignored.’, Drane, ‘A Personal History of Bioethics in Latin America: The Current Challenge to the Medical Profession and the Influence of Pharmaceutical Companies’, in Pessini & de Paul de Barchifontaine (eds.), ‘Ibero-American Bioethics: History and Perspectives’, p. 32 (2009).

[20] ‘In 1965 Henry K. Beecher, the Dorr Professor of Anesthiology at Harvard University, alerted the national press to a number of unethical studies of which he was aware. He had earlier raised these concerns in a professional forum and now “went public” only because he was outraged by his colleagues’ indifference to the issue.’, Guerrini, ‘Experimenting With Humans and Animals: From Galen to animal rights’, p. 139 (2003).

[21] ‘By the 1970s Beecher’s and Pappworth’s expose’s, and the revelation of the Tuskegee study, had demonstrated that biomedical researchers could not be trusted to adhere to the principles of the Nuremberg Code without the coercive inducement of national regulation.’, ibid., p. 141.

[22] ‘Despite the development of both the Nuremberg Code, published in 1947, and the Declaration of Helsinki nearly 20 years later, research was still being done without regard to the health and well-being of its participants. The literature cites many examples (Krguman et al., 1978; Campbell et al., 1992; LoBiondo-Wood and Haber, 1994; Lock, 1995; Dowd and Wilson, 1995; Nicholson, 1997; Homan, 1998)’, Hart & Bond, ‘Using action research’, in Gomm & Davies, ‘Using Evidence in Health and Social Care’, p. 109 (2000).

[23]The question is raised why such a commendable code of ethics has had so little impact in two countries [German and the US] with long histories of unethical therapeutic and nontherapeutic experimentation, unethical eugenically oriented surgery, and medical abuse and exploitation involving Blacks and other disadvantaged groups.’ Byrd & Clayton (eds.), ‘An American Health Dilemma: Race, medicine, and health care in the’, p. 281 (2001).

[24] ‘As health lawyer and bioethicist George J. Annas noted in The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code: Even where the Nuremberg Code has been cited as authoritative, it has usually been in dissent, and no US court has ever awarded damages to an injured experimental subject, or punished an experimenter, on the basis of a violation of the Code.‘, ibid., p. 281.

[25]not a single volunteer research participant refused to administer severe shocks to counterfeit subjects, when instructed to do so by a scientist in a white coat.’, Scheper-Hughes & Bourgois, ‘Violence in War and Peace: An Anthology’, Blackwell Readers in Anthropology, p. 16 (2004).

[26] ‘It should not come as a surprise that Milgram’s experimenter wore a white lab coat, embodying the authority of the expert research scientist pursuing knowledge. Whether by presence or by uniform, the more salient the authority figure, the more likely people are to obey, as can be seen in Figure 10.6.’, Smith & Mackie (eds.), ‘Social Psychology’, p. 399 (2000).

[27] ‘It was scientific and medical methods, scientific and medical speech that were used in carrying out these crimes in the name of science. Clearly, the scientific value of an experiment is not tainted by the experiment being carried out on murder victims. ‘It would be wrong to condemn them as bad experiments, if they were carried out on mice‘, writes Benno Müller-Hill,’, Weigmann, ‘In the name of science’, EMBO reports (2.10. 874). 2001.

[28] ‘Even today, we prefer to perceive the Nazi era as a period of ‘pseudo-science’. But this is dangerous, as it would relieve scientists from any responsibility for the crimes committed. ‘Criminal acts of this kind are an inexcusable shame, not only for those who prepared them, but also for all those who tolerated them, in fact  for the life sciences themselves, in the name of which they were committed‘, Markl said in his speech.’, ibid., p. 874.

[29] ‘It would be easy to condemn these experiments – most of them conducted without anethesia and in horrific circumstances – as the work of madmen, but bioethicist Arthur Caplan warns that to do so would be to deny their character as a logical expression of the values of German medical science.’, Guerrini, ‘Experimenting With Humans and Animals: From Galen to animal rights’, p. 137 (2003).

[30]Certainly, none of the doctors tried at Nuremberg pleaded insanity; rather, they defended their actions as consistent with the values of science and their duties as scientists.’, ibid., p. 137.

[31] ‘they argued that they were following orders, and that their training as scientists gave them no grounding in ethics that might justify refusing those orders.’, ibid., p. 137.

h1

Was Christianity responsible for the death of Greek science?

May 24, 2011

The Claim

Early Muslims repeatedly claimed for polemical purposes that Christianity brought Greek science to an end.[1] [2] [3] This view has become commonly accepted,[4] though the reality is different. [5]

Dating the Decline

Although estimates vary, historians of science typically agree that the decline of Greek science started before the Christian era.[6] [7] Farrington dates the decline from the 4th century BCE, [8] Seitz likewise,[9]  Ceccarelli from the end of the Alexandrian era in the next century (3rd century BCE),[10] Rana from 120 BCE,[11]and Toulmin and Goodfield from around the same era.[12]

Reasons for the Decline

Though reasons for the decline of Greek science involve a complex interplay of factors, historians of science suggest a range of causes which have nothing to do with Christianity.

Devreese and Berghe identify a stagnation in Greek science resulting from the uncritical systematization of previous research, which was accepted without challenge, stifling further development.[13]

The same suggestion is made by Cohen,[14] Pedersen,[15] and Toulmin and Goodfield.[16] Toulmin and Goodfield also note that increasing emphasis on the pagan mythological worldview, with its worship of the heavens and its religious explanations for natural phenomena, caused Greek science to lose ground. [17] [18]  [19]  [20]

Succeeding pagan philosophical systems contributed to disinterest in scientific enquiry during the Roman era.[21]  Similarly, Olson identifies Greek ideological reasons for the scientific decline.[22]

Lloyd, Cohen, and Gazale likewise suggest Greek science reached its limits for reasons within Greek civilization itself.[23] [24] [25] Lloyd’s comments include criticism of the pagan Greek cosmology and mythology, which led scientific inquiry into errors such as geocentrism.[26] [27] Haffner makes the same observation.[28] [29]


[1] ‘Like the Hellenes of late antiquity, who were convinced that the rise of Christianity meant the end of Greek science,77 Muslim authors blamed the decline of science and philosophy on the Christianization of the Roman empire.’, El-Cheikh, ‘Byzantium Viewed by the Arabs’, p. 106 (2004).

[2] ‘Writing in the Almohad court, Abu Yahya b. Mas’ada similarly places the blame for the decline of science on Constantine the Great:’, ibid., p. 108.

[3] ‘They all stress that the decline began in the fourth century A.D. and that Christianity was its root cause.’, ibid., p. 108.

[4] ‘The common assumption has been that Christianity was anti-intellectual, preferring faith instead of knowledge, and this was responsible for the decline of science from which it did not recover for a millennium’, Lestrel, ‘Morphometrics for the Life Sciences’, p. 66 (2000).

[5] ‘This is an oversimplification, as the picture is considerably more complicated (Lindbe, 1992).’, ibid., p. 66.

[6] ‘Nevertheless, it is agreed by most historians of ancient science that creative Greek science was on the wane, perhaps as early as 200 B.C., certainly by A.D. 200.‘, Lindberg, ‘Science and the Early Church’, in Lindberg & Numbers, ‘God and Nature: historical essays on the encounter between Christianity and science’, p. 30 (1986).

[7]At the end of the second century, when the great Hellenistic kingdoms declined, falling directly or indirectly under the sway of Rome, science seems to have fallen into a state of stagnation. True, the Greek part of the Roman Empire would witness the rise to fame of such great scientists as the physician Galen and the geographer and astronomer Ptolemy, but the golden age of Greek science and, for that matter, of Greek philosophy, had passed.’, UNESCO, ‘History of Humanity: From the seventh century B.C. to the seventh century A.D.’, p. 199 (1996).

[8] ‘Benjamin Farrington, Greek Science (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1961), would push the decline of Greek science even earlier, to the fourth century BC.’, Lindberg, ‘Science and the Early Church’, ibid., p. 45.

[9] ‘The highly innovative period of Greek science which lasted from about 500 BC to about 300 BC and, in a very real sense reached something in the nature of a termination with the rejection of Aristarchus’ solar-centered planetary system, was followed not so much by stagnation as by ferment of a very different kind from that which had taken place earlier.’, Seitz, ‘The Science Matrix: the Journey, Travails, Triumphs’, p. 22 (1998).

[10]The end of the Alexandrian era marked the eclipse of the ancient Greek science, and the systematic study of the design of machines became stagnant for a long period of time.’, Ceccarelli, ‘Distinguished Figures in Mechanism and Machine Science’, p. 5 (2007).

[11]After about 120 BC, the Greek Science started to lose its originality. Little of worth was produced after 200 A.D.’, Rana, ‘Geographical Thought: A systematic record of evolution’, p. 50 (2004).

[12]It was not only that the first enthusiasm had gone: in addition, from 100 B.C. on, men began to doubt more and more whether after all rational inquiry alone could uncover the workings of the Heavens. And since this problem had been something of a touchstone for natural philosophy, failure in this direction had wider repercussions.’, Toulmin & Goodfield, ‘The fabric of the heavens: the development of astronomy and dynamics’, p. 130 (1999).

[13] ‘One of the reasons why Greek science came to a halt is that the ideas of leading philosophers were accepted as decisive, while empirical tests were barely pursued.’, Devreese & Berghe, ”Magic is no magic’: the wonderful world of Simon Stevin’, p. xiv (2008).

[14]In short, after A.D. 200 much effort is being spent on preserving the results of scientific inquiry achieved in earlier times, but (with the sole exceptions of Diophantos in the 3rd, Proklos in the 4th, and Philoponus in the 6th century A.D.) the original spirit of fresh research has meanwhile been lost.’, Cohen, ‘The Scientific Revolution: a historiographical inquiry’, p. 253 (1994).

[15]Backed by their enormous library, Alexandrian scholars turned more and more to the systematization of past results. They were brilliant compilers, editors, and encyclopedists. Only Ptolemy’s eminent and creative work in astronomy is an exception. When with the advent of Plotinus (third century A.D.) neo-Platonist philosophy captured the minds of creative thinkers, the tide had turned. Later commentators like Proclos or Johannes Philoponus might occasionally venture new ideas of lasting value, and the writings of Simplikios must be regarded as an original contribution, as well as useful to a better understanding of traditional doctrines; but, in general, Hellenistic science had become stagnant.’, Pedersen, ‘Early Physics and Astronomy: A historical introduction’, p. 151 (1993).

[16]‘Greek astronomers began to limit their ambitions, and to concentrate on doing those things that they were already good at doing. They became satisfied with making small amendments to existing mathematical theories; filling in details rather than branching out in new directions. Since the progress of science demands that we should always be trying to solve the problems that have so far defeated us, and not just go on applying the techniques we already have, later Greek scientists in this way contributed positively to the decline of their subject.’, Toulmin & Goodfield, ‘The fabric of the heavens: the development of astronomy and dynamics’, pp. 130-131 (1999).

[17]‘By A.D. 200, astrology had recovered all the ground it ever lost, and had effectively displaced rational astrophysics.’, ibid., p. 130.

[18] ‘Compare Ptolemy’s position, as stated here, with the attitudes of the earlier Greek natural philosophers. We are half-way back to the Babylonians.’, ibid., p. 143 (1999).

[19] ‘The original Greek ambition to explain heavenly happenings in terms of causes familiar to us on Earth has been abandoned.’, ibid., p. 144.

[20]‘Aristotle’s physical distinction between the changeable Earth and the changeless Heavens was now taken with full theological earnestness; things in the Heavens were once again made objects of worship, as they had been in Babylonian times;’, ibid., p. 145.

[21] ‘The Stoics had some valuable scientific ideas, particularly in connection with matter-theory, but for many of them the Divinity of the Heavens – which for Aristotle was a theoretical insight – was important rather as a profound religious truth. On this basis, some of them even built up a sophisticated kind of star-worship, teaching that a man’s soul escaped at death from his body, to be reunited with his own personal star. (Plate 5.) They believed that all natural events were causally determined, but this belief encouraged not scientific enquiry so much as faith in divination. Among the Romans, the serious alternative to Stoicism was the philosophy of Epicurus. This doctrine did no more than Stoicism to encourage scientific work: if anything, the Epicureans were even less interested in questions of astronomy. They turned men’s attention right away from the Heavens, arguing that what went on in the sky was of no concern to men, whose proper business was with the problems of life on this Earth. The Roman poet Lucretius, who popularized Epicurus’ views in the first century B.C., even dismissed the idea of the Antipodes and treated the sphericity of the Earth – which had been a commonplace in Athens for several centuries – as an entirely unproved speculation.’, ibid., p. 147.

[22] ‘But among the significant factors, one must surely acknowledge the fact that for ideological reasons, Greek scientists seldom sought ways of developing practical consequences from their discoveries.’, Olson, ‘Science Deified and Science Defied: The Historical Significance of Science Vol. 1: From Bronze Age to the Beginnings of the Modern Era, ca 3500 B.C. to A.D. 1640’, p. 144 (1983).

[23] ‘It is far from self-evident that Greek science, on the eve of its decay, still possessed an inherent capability for further growth. Rather, there are signs that Greek science had indeed reached the limits set to its natural progress:’, Cohen, ‘The Scientific Revolution: A historiographical inquiry’, p. 396 (1994).

[24] ‘Altogether, to the small extent that Lloyd seeks to explain the lack of continuous growth displayed by Greek thought on nature, he ascribes it to “the weakness of the social and ideological basis of ancient science.”’, ibid., pp. 253-254.

[25] ‘That view is not entirely fair, and the decline of Greek science should not be attributed solely to the Roman conquest. Its seeds must be sought within the Greek civilization itself. According to L. Brunschwig, “The science of antiquity lacked what we regard today as the very condition of knowledge: the connection between calculation and physical experimentation.”‘, Gazale, ‘Number: from Ahmes to Cantor’, p. 37 (2009).

[26] ‘Nevertheless, despite the fertility in ideas, and despite the development of criteria and methods, the dominant cosmological view remained anthropocentric. The victory of geocentricity over heliocentricity was both a symptom and a cause of this.’, Lloyd, ‘Methods and Problems in Greek Science: Selected Papers’, p. 161 (1993).

[27] ‘The anthropocentrism of Greek cosmology and science is in certain respects at least, a weakness.’, ibid., p. 162.

[28] ‘The fundamental reason for the stillbirth of science in ancient Greece was a world view ‘steeped in the idea of eternal cycles.’ According to Aristotle, everything general, including ideas, recurred cyclically, and this undermined the concept of time.’, Haffner, ‘The Mystery of Reason’, p. 155 (2001).

[29] ‘The Great Year was a circular barrier for the Greek mind and deprived it of insights and aspirations which were necessary for the growth of science.’, ibid., p. 155.

h1

Who was Hypatia?

May 5, 2011

The Myths

Hypatia has been depicted as a revolutionary woman scientist,[1] the last of the ancient pagan scientists,[2] a representative of feminist values,[3] and the designer of the astrolabe and hydrometer.[4] [5] Her death has been considered exemplary of the intolerance of religion,[6] and the death of Greek science.[7] [8]

The Facts

Hypatia was a neo-Platonist lecturer and scholar in 4th century Alexandria (Egypt), who taught mathematics and astronomy to members of the privileged elite[9] as part of the mysteries of Neoplatonism.[10]

She was not the first woman ‘scientist’[11] or mathematician.[12] [13] [14] Her position as a teacher of men did not threaten the existing social or religious order.[15] She did not invent the astrolabe,[16] [17] and there is no evidence she invented the hydrometer.[18]

Her brutal murder by a Christian mob was due to political power play, not conflict between Christianity and paganism or science.[19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24]

Her earliest historian (a Christian), praised her and condemned her murderers.[25] She is quoted as having expressed many rationalist ideals,[26] [27] [28] [29]  [30] but these are all fictional. [31] [32] [33] [34] [35]


[1] ‘Hypatia of Alexandria (ca. 370–415) Egyptian astronomer, philosopher, teacher, and mathematician regarded as the first woman scientist, and the first woman to contribute to the study of mathematics.’. Todd, ‘The Facts on File Algebra Handbook’, p. 66 (2003).

[2] ‘Alic, Margaret. Hypatia’s Heritage: A History of women in Science from Antiquity Through the Nineteenth Century. Boston: Beacon and London: Women’s Press, 1986. Examines biographical and scientific evidence to reveal the lives and accomplishments of women in natural and physical sciences and mathematics. The material dealing with Hypatia claims for her the roles of the last important pagan scientist in the western world, and the representative of end [sic] of ancient science.’, Magill, Moose, & Aves (eds.), ‘Dictionary of World Biography: The ancient world’, p. 583 (1998).

[3] ‘Little known for centuries, Hypatia emerged in the nineteenth century as a symbol for feminists of the historical suppression of women’s accomplishments.’, McIntyre, ‘Hypatia’, in Traver (ed.), ‘From polis to empire, the ancient world, c. 800 B.C.-A.D. 500: A Biographical Dictionary’, The Great Cultural Eras of the Western World, p. 205 (2001).

[4] ‘Synesius refers to two mechanical devices, a hydrometer and a silver astrolabe, that he and Hypatia invented‘. Rosser, ‘Women, Science, and Myth: Gender beliefs from antiquity to the present’, p. 13 (2008).

[5] ‘Synesius of Cyrene (North Africa) a student of Hypatia, credited her with the invention of apparatus for distilling water and measuring the level of liquids.’, Lumpkin, ‘Hypatia and Women’s Rights in Ancient Egypt’, in Van Sertima (ed.), ‘Black Women in Antiquity’, p. 155 (1984).

[6] ‘Usually interpreted as an illustration of barbaric religious fanaticism and intolerance for humanistic inquiry,’, Naylor, ‘North Africa: a history from antiquity to the present’, p. 51 (2009).

[7] ‘Her death presents the perfect symbol of the end of the classical world, the end for a long time of the possibility of disinterested scientific inquiry.’, Whaley, ‘Women’s history as scientists: a guide to the debates’, p. 19 (2003).

[8] ‘Van der Waerden reiterates the theme that Alexandrian science ceased with her death:’, Dzielska, ‘Hypatia of Alexandría’, p. 25 (1995).

[9]They were from wealthy and influential families; in time they attained posts of state and ecclesiastical eminence. Around their teacher these students formed a community based on the Platonic system of thought and interpersonal ties. They called the knowledge passed on to them by their ‘divine guide’ mysteries. They held it secret, refusing to share it with people of lower social rank, whom they regarded as incapable of comprehending divine and cosmic matters.’, ibid., p. 105.

[10] To her disciples Hypatia was a medium of divinely revealed truths.

[11] In Hypatia’s day there was actually no such thing as a ‘scientist’ in the modern sense of the term, only the ‘natural philosopher’, who studied the natural world and typically combined observations with religious and philosophical commentary.

[12] ‘She [Dzielska] also unearths a number of references to women in the late Greek philosophical world, which show Hypatia’s example to be not so unusual as had been thought.’, Hodgkin, ‘A history of mathematics: from Mesopotamia to modernity’, p. 72 (2005).

[13] ‘(Incidentally, Hypatia is not the earliest known woman mathematician; Pappus had directed a polemic against a female teacher of mathematics named Pandrosion, and a certain Ptolemais is quoted in Porphyry’s commentary on Ptolemy’s Harmonics.)’, Jones, ‘Later Greek and Byzantime mathematics’, in Grattan-Guinness (ed.), ‘Companion Encyclopedia of the History and Philosophy of the Mathematicla Sciences’, volume 1, p. 65 (2003).

[14]Hypatia, after all, wasn’t the first woman philosopher. The Project on the History of Women in Philosophy amply documented that there were many women philosophers before Hypatia; she didn’t come along unti lafter the fourth century A.D. Among those who preceded her were numbers of Pythagorean women philosophers from the sixth to the third or second century B.C. and others -’, McAlister, ‘Hypatia’s Daughters: fifteen hundred years of women philosophers’, p. x (1996).

[15] ‘The highly public nature of Hypatia’s career was consistent with the African tradition of Egyptian women,’, Lumpkin, ‘Hypatia and Women’s Rights in Ancient Egypt’, in Van Sertima (ed.), ‘Black Women in Antiquity’, pp. 155-156 (1984).

[16] ‘The invention of the astrolabe is usually attributed to Hipparchus of the second century BC. But there is no firm evidence to support this view. It is however certain that the instrument was well known to the Greeks before the beginning of the Christian era.’, Sarma, ‘The Archaic and the Exotic: studies in the history of Indian astronomical instruments’, p. 241 (2008).

[17] ‘It is generally accepted that Greek astrologers, in either the 1st or 2nd centuries BCE, invented the astrolabe‘, Krebs, ‘Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions, and Discoveries of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance’, p. 196 (2004).

[18] *In fact her student Synesius wrote her a letter telling her how to make one for him, and explaining how to use it; ‘I am in such evil fortune that I need a hydroscope. See that one is cast in brass for me and put together. The instrument in question is a cylindrical tube, which has the shape of a flute and is about the same size. It has notches in a perpendicular line, by means of which we are able to test the weight of the waters. A cone forms a lid at one of the extremities, closely fitted to the tube. The cone and the tube have one base only. This is called the baryllium. Whenever you place the tube in water, it remains erect. You can then count the notches at your ease, and in this way ascertain the weight of the water.’ Fitzgerald, ‘The Letters of Synesius of Cyrene’, p. 99 (1926).

[19] ‘As the Czech historian Maria Dzielska documents in a recent biography, Hypatia got caught up in a political struggle between Cyril, an ambitious and ruthless churchman eager to extend his authority, and Hypatia’s friend Orestes, the imperial prefect who represented the Roman Empire.’, Lindberg, ‘Myth 1: That the Rise of Christianity Was Responsible For the Demise of Ancient Science’, in Numbers (ed.), ‘Galileo Goes to Jail: and other myths about science and religion’, p. 9 (2009).

[20]her death had everything to do with local politics and virtually nothing to do with science. Cyril’s crusade against pagans came later. Alexandrian science and mathematics prospered for decades to come.’, ibid., p. 9.

[21] ‘That Synesius, a Christian, maintained such close ties with the Greek intellectual traditions and with his teacher Hypatia, suggests that a hybrid amalgam existed between the intellectual pagan and intellectual Christian traditions.’, Wessel, ‘Cyril of Alexandria and the Nestorian controversy: the making of a’, p. 54 (2004).

[22] ‘Among Christian intellectual elites, this Neoplatonic variety of paganism posed no real threat to their theological views. Such easy coexistence between certain pagan and Christian intellectuals suggests that Hypatia’s paganism per se may not have angered Cyril as much as John of Nikiu claimed.’, ibid., p. 54.

[23] ‘Hypatia was a pagan, but she had a lot of students who were Christians and maybe even a few Jewish students.’, Moore & Bruder, ‘Philosophy: the power of ideas’, p. 85 (2001).

[24]Pagan religiosity did not expire with Hypatia, and neither did mathematics and Greek philosophy. (Dzielska 1995, p. 105).’, Hodgkin, ‘A history of mathematics: from Mesopotamia to modernity’, p. 72 (2005).

[25] Socrates Scholasticus, ‘Historia Ecclesiastica’ (c. 439).

[26]Hypatia was unimpressed with what she called religious superstition. She once described how she felt “truth” was different from religious beliefs: “Men will fight for superstition as quickly as for the living truth – even more so, since superstition is intangible, you can’t get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, and so is changeable.”‘, Donovan, ‘Hypatia: Mathematician, Inventor, and Philosopher’, p. 43 (2008).

[27] ‘Making matters even worse, Hypatia made public statements against organized religion: All formal… religions are delusive [able to easily mislead people] and must never be accepted by self-respecting persons as final.’, p. 48.

[28] ‘As Hypatia explained, “Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.”‘, p. 43.

[29]She also warned about the dangers of teaching children myths and fairy tales: Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fancies. To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing. The mind of a child accepts them, and only through great pain, perhaps even tragedy, can the child be relieved of them.’, ibid., p. 42; this is sometimes understood as advice against teaching religion to children.

[30] This has derived support from Lynn Osen’s ‘Women in Mathematics’ (1975), which ironically does not attribute these statements to her at all, but to her father Theon; ‘”All formal dogmatic religions are fallacious and must never be accepted by self-respecting persons as final,” he told her. “Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all” (Hubbard 1908, p. 82).’, Osen, ‘Women in Mathematics’, p. 24 (1975).

[31] ‘The most creative is the exciting account of Hypatia’s educational training and life composed by Elbert  Hubbard in 1908, who made up most of it to compensate for the lack of historical evidence. He even invented quotations that he attributed to Hypatia, and had a suitably ‘ancient’-looking picture of her in profile drawn to illustrate the piece.’, Cohen, ‘Philosophical Tales: being an alternative history revealing the characters, the plots, and the hidden scenes that make up the True Story of Philosophy’, p. 47 (2008); all quotations attributed to Hypatia or her father are the invention of Hubbard, who had no historical training.

[32] ‘”All formal dogmatic religions are fallacious and must never be accepted by self-respecting persons as final,” said Theon to Hypatia. “Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.”‘, Hubbard, ‘Little journeys to the Homes of Great Teachers: Hypatia’, pp. 82-83 (1908).

[33]Said Hypatia, “Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fancies. To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible thing. The child-mind accepts and believes them, and only through great pain and perhaps tragedy can he be in after-years relieved of them. In fact, men will fight for a superstition quite as quickly as for a living truth – often more so, since a superstition is so intangible you can not get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, and so is changeable.”’, ibid., pp. 84-85.

[34] ‘In his ability to see the good in all things Hypatia placed Plotinus ahead of Plato, but then she says, “Had there been no Plato there would have been no Plotinus, and although Plotinus surpassed Plato, yet it is plain that Plato, the inspirer of Plotinus and so many more, is the one man whom philosophy cannot spare. Hail Plato!!”‘, ibid., p. 93

[35] ‘”To rule by fettering the mind through fear of punishment in another world, is just as base as to use force,” said Hypatia in one of her lectures.’, ibid., p. 99.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 28 other followers