Journals Through History Ancient China Contributions to the World

Journals Through History Ancient China Contributions to the World

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This is a brief video (16 minutes) but is very good. It is narrated by a young Chinese girl writing in her journal who tells you about Chinese culture and religion. The information is accurate all the way through and covers the three most influential religious/philosophical beliefs of China (Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism), the importance of the Silk Road, and cultural values. This video would be especially useful for a written or oral report. Even though it is very short, they manage to fit in a great deal of information including how paper was made in ancient China.

Ancient Chinese Mathematics

China has one of the world's oldest traditions in mathematical discovery, comparable to those of Egypt and the Middle East. The first Chinese mathematics text is of uncertain age, some dating it as early as 1200 b.c. and others over a thousand years later, but there is little doubt that relatively advanced mathematical concepts were discovered and practiced in China well before the birth of Christ. For much of its history, China has been in contact with the West, albeit intermittently, and Chinese and Western mathematicians influenced each other for centuries. Although it is sometimes difficult to determine who influenced whom, some Chinese contributions clearly predate those of the West, or are so obviously different that it is apparent they arose independently. In any event, the history of Chinese mathematics is both long and distinguished.

“Post-Western sociologies” in non-Western countries

The “post-Western sociologies” formed and developed in the wake of the “Western sociologies” include two parts: one is the sociologies formed and developed in non-Western countries the other is the sociologies consecutively developed in Western countries. A more detailed investigation on the sociologies in these two kinds of countries could be made. First, it is the sociologies formed and developed in non-Western countries.

Generally, non-Western “sociologies,” formed and developed in the wake of “Western sociologies,” are the results of the transmission of “Western sociologies” to non-Western countries. Therefore, they all seemingly could be categorized into “post-Western sociologies.” However, the truth is that this is not the case. If some theories of Western sociologies transmitted to certain non-Western countries are simply translated in the level of expressive language (translated from some Western language into some non-Western language, such as from English into Chinese) and hence there is no substantial change, then the theories should still be categorized into “Western sociologies,” rather than the so-called “post-Western sociologies” here, although in the process of translation, the connotation and extension of these theories may be different from the connotation and extension in the original mother language. At most, these translated theories could be named “Western sociologies translated into a certain language” (such as “Western sociologies translated into Chinese”). In fact, this is the primary form of almost all sociologies in non-Western countries Footnote 2 .

Then, could “post-Western sociologies” be connected with the sociological indigenization in non-Western countries and the sociological theories indigenized in non-Western countries be categorized into “post-Western sociologies?” In my opinion, the answer is still no. For illustration, about the result of “indigenization” of sociologies or social science in non-Western countries, a more detailed analysis could be made.

Through deliberative analysis, it is clear that the “indigenization” of sociologies or social science in non-Western countries can be categorized into the following types.

The first type is the indigenization of research objects, which means the research objects mainly aimed at Western societies have been transformed into those mainly (or even only) aimed at non-Western societies. Meanwhile, in other aspects (such as basic concepts, theoretical propositions, research methods, etc.), the indigenization has not yet happened. Some concepts from Chinese sociologists could be used to describe this type as “object-transformed indigenization.” It was the initial expectation for sociologists from non-Western countries in the process of sociological “indigenization” and the primary form of “indigenized sociologies” in non-Western countries. For instance, at the time of formation of Chinese sociologies in the early twentieth century, the expectation of sociological “indigenization” initiated by Xu Shilian, Sun Benwen, Wu Wenzao, Li Jinghan, etc. was that the concepts, propositions, and theories from Western societies could be connected with empirical materials from Chinese society.

The second type is the indigenization of both research objects and some other aspects, to some extent, such as basic concepts, theoretical propositions, and research methods. For instance, some concepts, propositions, and methods originally from the West were modified and transformed based on the indigenous context (distinguishing “jiating (家庭),” “jiazu (家族),” and “zongzu (宗族)” from the concept of “family” distinguishing “shequ (社区)” and “shequn (社群)” from the concept of “community” integrating “nation” and “ethnic” into the concept of “nation (minzu民族)” some new concepts, such as “chaxugeju (差序格局)” and “danwei (单位),” propositions and methods were created based on the indigenous discourse resource and some new theoretical systems, originally from the West but different, were constructed by reinterpretation and reconstruction of the given Western theoretical systems (for example, construction of a Chinese neo-functionalism by integrating English socioanthropological functionalism and the Chicago School of urban ecology). Therefore, the social theories adopted by the native scholars from the West have been more or less supplemented, modified, and renewed, and this type could be named as “supplemented-modified-renewed indigenization.” Theoretically, due to the differences of cultural tradition, historical experience, natural environment, and structure between non-Western and Western countries and the variation in understanding and use of concepts and propositions caused by sociologists, the indigenization of research objects will lead to the indigenization of theoretical concepts and propositions. Most of the results of non-Western sociologies could be categorized into this category. For instance, Fei Xiaotong, based on the research on Chinese rural areas, supplemented and modified Malinowski and Brown’s functionalist anthropology and developed a sociological-anthropological theory, which became the model of “supplemented-modified” indigenized sociological-anthropological theory. Since sociology was rebuilt in China, the contemporary Chinese sociologists have consciously constructed numerous indigenized sociological theories with “Chinese characteristics,” such as “structural sociology” proposed by Lu Xueyi, “social structure transition” theory by Li Peilin, “structural-institutional analysis” by Li Lulu, Li Qiang, Li Hanlin and Zhangjing, “process-event analysis” by Sun Liping, “school of social operation” or “social mutual-constructionism” by Zheng Hangsheng, sociology of “phenomenology in daily life” by Yang Shanhua, “pluralistic discourse analysis” by me, “emotional choice theory” by Liu Shaojie, “sociological Marxism” by Shen Yuan, “space-time sociology” by Jing Tiankui, and “social biology” by Zheng Yefu.

The third type is not only the indigenization of research objects but also the radical and thorough indigenization of theories (concepts and propositions), which means that the Western concepts or propositions are fully or mainly abandoned and a set of indigenized concepts and propositions originating from the native people’s social life are adopted instead however, the thinking patterns and research methods still follow those from Western sociologies (such as positive scientific method, hermeneutics, dialectical method, and so on, especially the positive scientific method). Quoting the words from some Chinese scholars, it means using Western modern scientific methods to study the social and cultural contents in indigenous China (Yang 2012). This type could be named as “theoretical substitution indigenization.” For instance, the indigenization movement in the field of sociology/social psychology, initiated by Yang Guoshu, Huang Guangguo and Yang Zhongfang in Taiwan and Hong Kong and continued by some scholars in Chinese mainland such as Zhai Xuewei, to some extent was the attempt to use Western modern scientific methods (mainly the positive scientific methods, such as the questionnaire survey and experiment) to study Chinese society, culture and behavior and to use some concepts (such as “renqing (人情),” “mianzi (面子),” “yuanfen (缘分),” “guanxi (关系),” “mingfen (名分),” “qi (气),” and“danwei (单位)”) and propositions (such as “when the six layers of 'qichang (气场)' are completed, the mass disturbance is inevitable”) (Ying 2011:195) originating from Chinese society, culture and psychological life to explain Chinese society, culture and behavior.

The fourth type makes a further step on the basis of the third type. It attempts to make radical and thorough indigenization not only of research objects and theories (concepts and propositions) but also of thinking patterns and research methods, which means the thinking patterns and research methods from Western social science have been substituted by non-Western (Chinese) and traditional ones Footnote 3 , and meanwhile fully indigenized sociological theories (for instance, Confucianist sociology, Buddhist sociology, Taoist sociology, and Islamic sociology) have been created in three aspects—research objects, theories (concepts and propositions), and research methods, where “the Western” has been completely substituted by “the indigenous.” This type could be named as “theoretical-methodical substitution indigenization.” Recently, a school of scholars self-proclaimed as “neo-Confucianism in mainland” emerged in China mainland they claimed a neo-Confucianism and its doctrines with a strong meaning of indigenization, including a set of highly indigenized “neo-Confucianist social theories.” If it can be systematically illustrated, its results, to a large extent, can hence be categorized into the type of “theoretical-methodical substitution indigenization.” As a matter of fact, the “qunxue (群学)” explained by Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao, and Yan Fu who was inspired by Western sociologies, in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, were quite similar to the theories of “theoretical-methodical substitution indigenization” mentioned here. It is the reason why the scholars of “neo-Confucianism in mainland” appealed to “returning to Kang Youwei” in recent years.

Due to the following reasons, the last type of “indigenized” sociological theories can also be described as “non-Western sociologies.” According to the definition of “Western sociologies” above, “non-Western sociologies” can be defined as sociological theories with the following features.

Merely constructed by sociologists in non-Western countries or regions

Merely constructed under the guidance and within the restriction of the traditional non-Western discourse system

Merely initially expressed in the non-Western language

The last type of non-Western indigenized sociologies is exactly the type of sociological theory that is constructed by non-Western sociologists under the guidance and within the restriction of the traditional non-Western discourse system and initially expressed in non-Western language. Therefore, it is fully justifiable to name these types as “non-Western sociologies.”

Certainly, it is necessary to clarify that “non-Western sociologies” does not commonly exist as a whole. As the results of a radical or thorough “indigenization” movement, “non-Western sociologies” are usually segmented into some theoretical systems applied in narrower spaces, such as “Chinese sociologies,” “Eastern Asian sociologies,” “Latino sociologies,” “Brazilian sociologies” and so on. Some more specific schools can even be distinguished according to the theoretical features, for instance, “Chinese sociologies” could be furtherly divided into “Confucianist sociology,” “Buddhist sociology,” “Taoist sociology,” “Legalists sociologies,” etc. The four types above belong to Weber’s “ideal type” because the indigenized theories in real life cannot be so distinguishable as they are described here instead, they might be in a state with blurred boundaries. However, the four ideal types can still be used to understand and discuss the relevant issues.

In regard to the second and third type of “indigenized sociologies” in non-Western countries, it is clear that they cannot be categorized into neither “non-Western sociologies” nor “Western sociologies.” First, they are different from “Western sociologies” in the aspects of research subjects, theoretical systems (concepts, propositions, etc.), and initiative languages. The most important difference is in theoretical systems. Even “supplemented-modified-renewed indigenization” sociologies (in addition to “theoretical substitution indigenization”) are hardly equal to Western sociologies that need to be supplemented and modified by it. For instance, although most of the sociological theories in China’s mainland belong to the type of “supplemented-modified-renewed indigenization,” no one would ever consider them as “Western sociologies.” Numerous Western concepts (such as structure, construction, mutual-construction, system, mechanism, function, family, organization, community, class, nation, evolution, and progress) and propositions are adopted, but the connotation of many concepts (such as family, community, class, and nation) has already changed. If these changes are neglected or lack awareness, many works in the sociological literature of contemporary China cannot be fully understood. Second, these sociological theories are crucially or even fundamentally different from “non-Western sociologies,” and hence cannot be categorized into them. For instance, although the theories of “supplemented-modified-renewed indigenization” are quite different from their maternal Western theories and they cannot be mixed together, they are still closely linked to each other. Many concepts and propositions, whose connotation (content) and extension (range of application) are still different from those of maternal Western theories, might be developed from the latter. Because of their close relationship, the former cannot be identified as “non-Western sociologies” although in terms of basic concepts and propositions, the link between the theories of “theoretical substitution indigenization” and Western sociologies has been cut off, the thinking patterns and research methods of the former are still Western (and might be supplemented and modified to some degree according to non-Western societies). Hence, to a large extent, they are still highly westernized, rather than “non-westernized”. This is analogous to Chinese medicine that has been transformed based on Western modern science and thus cannot be identified as pure “Chinese medicine,” but as a westernized one. In a certain sense, however, the theories of “supplemented-modified-renewed indigenization” can be considered as “non-westernized (such as Chinese) Western sociologies,” and theories of “theoretical substitution indigenization” as “westernized non-Western sociologies” (such as “westernized Chinese sociologies” or “westernized Confucianist sociologies”). Nevertheless, they cannot be equal to the fourth type of indigenized theories named as “non-Western sociologies.”

Then, what is the relationship between the four types of indigenized sociological theories in non-Western countries above and “post-Western sociologies”? Can they all be categorized into “post-Western sociologies?” The answer is no.

I consider, strictly speaking, that the theories of the first type “object-transformed indigenization” should be categorized into “Western sociologies” rather than “non-Western sociologies.” The reason is simple, in that they only supplement Western sociologies with some empirical materials in non-Western societies, while in terms of basic concepts, propositions and theoretical logic, and Western sociologies are not supplemented, modified, or even replaced. Hence, they are basically still the sociologies constructed by Western sociologists under the guidance and within the restriction of the traditional Western discourse system and initially expressed in Western language, and they are not different fundamentally from the so-called “Western sociologies translated into a certain language.”

It is often said that the research object of Western sociologies is Western societies hence, sociologies whose research object is not Western societies do not belong to “Western sociologies.” I consider it incorrect. In truth, both Western sociologies and non-Western sociologies are not simply distinguished by geographical disparities, but by the three factors above (especially the second one—the traditional discourse system that guides and restricts it). As a matter of fact, even though according to the three factors above, the theories of those classic sociologists (such as Marx, Comte, Durkheim, Weber, Tönnies, and Parsons) could be categorized into “Western sociologies,” their research objects were not limited to Western societies but extended to all the human societies. Although the research objects of the sociological theories constructed by non-Western sociologists are mostly the indigenous social realities, it does not mean that only the indigenous societies rather than other societies (including Western societies) can be their research objects, which is well illustrated by the rise of “overseas ethnography” studies in China mainland during the past few years. Therefore, it is not reasonable to hold that the sociologies of “object-transformed indigenization” whose research objects are no longer Western societies should not continue to be categorized into “Western sociologies.”

Therefore, on the basis of the definitions herein, among the four types of indigenized sociological theories in non-Western countries, only the last three could and should be categorized into “post-Western sociologies.” In regard to sociologies in non-Western countries, a dual model of “Western sociologies and post-Western sociologies” can be offered. According to this model, in non-Western countries, “post-Western sociologies” contain (but are not equal to) “non-Western sociologies” such as “oriental sociologies,” “Southern sociologies,” and “Eastern Asian sociologies.”. They refer to all the other sociological theories except “Western sociologies translated into a certain language” and sociologies of “object-transformed indigenization.”

Journals Through History Ancient China Contributions to the World - History

The Mongol era in China is remembered chiefly for the rule of Khubilai Khan, grandson of Chinggis Khan. Khubilai patronized painting and the theater, which experienced a golden age during the Yuan dynasty, over which the Mongols ruled [also see The Mongols in China: Cultural Life under Mongol Rule]. Khubilai and his successors also recruited and employed Confucian scholars and Tibetan Buddhist monks as advisers, a policy that led to many innovative ideas and the construction of new temples and monasteries.

The Mongol Khans also funded advances in medicine and astronomy throughout their domains. And their construction projects — extension of the Grand Canal in the direction of Beijing, the building of a capital city in Daidu (present-day Beijing) and of summer palaces in Shangdu ("Xanadu") and Takht-i-Sulaiman, and the construction of a sizable network of roads and postal stations throughout their lands — promoted developments in science and engineering [also see The Mongols in China: Civilian Life under Mongol Rule].

Perhaps most importantly, the Mongol empire inextricably linked Europe and Asia and ushered in an era of frequent and extended contacts between East and West. And once the Mongols had achieved relative stability and order in their newly acquired domains, they neither discouraged nor impeded relations with foreigners. Though they never abandoned their claims of universal rule, they were hospitable to foreign travelers, even those whose monarchs had not submitted to them.

The Mongols also expedited and encouraged travel in the sizable section of Asia that was under their rule, permitting European merchants, craftsmen, and envoys to journey as far as China for the first time. Asian goods reached Europe along the caravan trails (earlier known as the "Silk Roads"), and the ensuing European demand for these products eventually inspired the search for a sea route to Asia. Thus, it could be said that the Mongol invasions indirectly led to Europe's "Age of Exploration" in the 15th century.

→ NEXT: Support for foreign contact & exchange

Khubilai Khan Greeting the Polo Brothers (detail)
Livre des merveilles, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris

10 Major Contributions Ancient Egyptians Made to Modern Medicine

Physicians in ancient Egypt proved to be masters of dentistry and had already learned how to craft effective dental bridges. According to the British Dental Journal, on several occasions early dental bridges were discovered on ancient Egyptian skulls, and three of the teeth are on display at various museums with evidence of the bridges still in tact.

Pain Killers and Anesthesia

For thousands of years, ancient Egyptians already had a thorough understanding of painkillers and laid the foundation for modern-day medical means of pain relief. Both the Edwin Smith Papyrus and the Ebers Papyrus make note of the fact that ancient Egyptians already had knowledge of the narcotics in natural herbs like the water lily and lotus, cannabis, the poppy and the mandrake. They used these natural remedies to control pain long before Europeans figured out the natural powers of such herbs.

Ancient Africa? Ancient Asia? Who had the Bigger Impact on Us, Today?

Ancient Africa has made more contributions to our world today then Ancient Asia, and I’m going to prove it to you.

Metallurgy and tools

In ancient West Africa iron was smelted by the Kush Empire, which they then traded for other important resources. This lead to the Iron Age. They started making weapons with iron, as well as tools. Ancient Tanzanian furnaces could reach 1,800°C — 200 to 400°C warmer than those of the Romans! With iron today we build huge building, “The Empire State Building,” is an example. Iron pillars are used to hold it up.

Sure the Chinese built the Silk Road, which as the main trading rout of the time, but the West Coast of Africa produced gold and salt, two of the most valuable things of the time. The Ghana Empire was very rich. Its wealth came from mining gold and salt. The thing is though, there were no gold or salt mines in the Empire, most of the salt mines were north and east of the Empire. The gold mines were farther south, along the east coast, so how is that possible?

Well, the people of coastal West Africa produced more gold than they could ever need. The Ghana Empire just so happened to have control over the trade routes between the Sahara Desert and the southern parts of West Africa. They used this to their advantage. The kings promised the merchants, who were traveling south to trade salt for gold, that they would protected by Ghana’s great army. In exchange, the merchants would have to give the army a portion of the gold they brought through Ghana. The Golden Age began.

The Europeans were the first to sail to the America, right? Line of evidence suggest that ancient Africans sailed to South America and Asia hundreds of years before Europeans. Thousands of miles of waterways across Africa were trade routes. The Mali and Songhia built boats 100 feet long and 13 feet wide and could carry 80 tons. Yes, I must admit the magnetic compass invented by the Song Dynasty was a very big contribution to navigation, without it we wouldn’t be able to tell which was is north.

Ancient Africa has made more contributions the Ancient Asia. In Navigation, Metallurgy and tools, and Trade. I would like to say if you disagree with any of my points, that is your opinion, and that is mine, please respect them. But I would like for you to take my side, as I have proven that Ancient Africa has contributed more to our world than Ancient Asia.

The idea of wuxing

Another important set of notions associated with the same school of yinyang are the “Five Phases” (wuxing) or “powers” (wude): water, fire, wood, metal, earth. They are also “breaths” (i.e., active energies), the idea of which enabled the philosophers to construct a coherent system of correspondences and participations linking all phenomena of the macrocosm and the microcosm. Associated with spatial directions, seasons of the year, colours, musical notes, animals, and other aspects of nature, they also correspond, in the human body, to the five inner organs. The Daoist techniques of longevity are grounded in these correspondences. The idea behind such techniques was that of nourishing the inner organs with the essences corresponding to their respective phases and during the season dominated by the latter.

Intentional History: Spinning Time in Ancient Greece

As noted in the introduction, the phenomenon of intentional history (or intentionale Geschichte) follows Gehrke (2001), 1 and refers to the ‘projection in time of the elements of subjective, self-conscious self categorization which construct the identity of a group as a group’ (p. 9). This important concept questions the location in time of certain events in Greek history: Why do some events happen at specific points, while others happen in undefined positions in time, and what affect does this have on shaping the present, future and the past? Intentional history acknowledges that history is given meaning by actors, or agents, and that this agency can be invented or manipulated, and was always intended. The editors and contributors of the volume all work from a relatively similar premise: that history is selective, linking producers and consumers, and that investigations of this kind create histories beyond alterity and identity. The contributors range widely in levels of seniority within the field of Greek history, but this is not reflected in the level of quality of the contributions. The book provides useful analyses of literary and visual texts by well established scholars and, while perhaps a bit uneven in editorial rigor, is recommended thoroughly.

Chapter two by H.-J.Gehrke provides a useful overview, with the broad topic, entitled ‘Greek representations of the past.’ Gehrke discusses Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Thucydides, Plato, through sources of the Hellenistic period. Efforts at claiming shared notions of a Greek past are exemplified by newly Hellenized cities like Sidon, which claimed to be the mother-town of Thebes. Festivals and occasions for honoring citizens and towns allowed what some might call the falsification of historical fact, such as the festival of Artemis Leukophryene at Magnesia on the Maeander. This city tied its contributions to Greek collective history back to the Trojan War by means of invented ‘documents’ and carefully stressed origin myths.

In Chapter three, ‘Myth as past?’, L. Giuliani asks whether early representations of myths are intentionally depicted showing events taking place in the past. For example, do Dipylon shields of the 8 th c. refer to memories of Bronze Age figure-of-eight shields or are they a product of the contemporary Geometric world? Giuliani, building on the works of Webster (1955) and Ahlberg (1971) believes that geometric scenes of elites in prosthesis‘…do not signal a heroic past. Instead, they must have been perceived as compatible with the customs of the present.’ (p. 38). The shield’s connection with the similarly formed Boiotian type is also addressed.

E. Bowie’s contribution (Chapter four) on the Trojan War’s reception in lyric, iambic and elegiac poetry is highly illuminating. This chapter is particularly useful for those interested in transmission and translation between literary styles before late-fifth century tragedy, and reminds us that the Trojan myths were evaluated within a much larger literary context than what remains to us today.

Chapter five, by M. Nafissi, is a dedicated and focused attempt at contextualizing at the Great Rhetra of Sparta in light of Tyrtaios, Aristotle and Plutarch (Plut. Lyc. 6). Plutarch and Aristotle viewed the rhetra as an oracle, rather than a law, which only later takes on legislative characteristics in memory. Its history tells us much about Archaic Spartan history as well as the history of the traditions of Spartan institutions. Similarly, Giangiulio’s contribution, chapter six (‘Collective identities, imagined past, and Delphi’), is a well-structured treatment of oracular traditions from Delphi and their impact on local histories of the archaic period.

J. Skinner’s chapter is devoted to numismatic evidence, which in many ways is the most ‘intentional’ of all of historical sources from antiquity. As Skinner states, ‘In helping to define the collective identity of the political community, both internally and in relation to those outside, coins, alongside other aspects of custom/ nomos, arguably contributed to that same sense of connectedness, now thought to be at the root of any wider sense of ‘Greek’ identity.’ (p. 154) Visual culture is also addressed by R. von den Hoff in chapter eight, which examines representations of Theseus and juxtaposes them in various contexts with the panhellenic figure Heracles. Changes in context are of course important to note in visual culture, but von den Hoff goes further in stressing that there are multiple ‘intentional histories’ with regard to representations of mythic history and that by mapping various remodelings of certain myths we can learn much more about the agents of such processes.

In K. Raaflaub’s contribution, ‘Ulterior motives in ancient historiography: what exactly, and why?’ the wider field of classical history is addressed by contrasting the historiographies of Tacitus, Herodotus, Polybius, Livy, and Thucydides. This wide-ranging overview provides penetrating insight through selected texts and is encouraging for demonstrating that there are still many fruitful avenues of research for future ancient historians.

Chapter ten moves to tragedy. R. Schlesier’s contribution should be read as a ‘prolegomenon to further research’ devoted to the theme of memory (and forgetting) in Dionysian spheres. She outlines several examples of memory connected with Dionysos in drama which are clearly intentional and the question left is, ‘what is the intention of remembering?’ The basic outline of her analysis is well-structured: place, ritual, and role-models, which helps clarify the over-arching themes.

Epigraphy, one could argue, is similar to numismatics, as a truly intentional source of history and this is the focus of S. Lambert’s contribution (Chapter eleven). Fourth century Lykourgan Athens has a rich epigraphic history, with a particular talent for deploying the Athenian past for present purposes.

Chapter twelve moves the volume further in time by examining ‘Intentional History: Alexander, Demosthenes, and Thebes’ (I. Worthington), and looks at the particular case of the razing of Thebes. This destructive act is most often connected with Demosthenes by contemporary orators (Aeschines and Deinarchos) rather than with the one who actually issued the order: Alexander. Worthington addresses the intention behind such a manipulation of the past and shows how inconvenient to some sources it would have been to highlight the young king’s role immediately after the event. By the time of Polybius, however, it becomes the single most frequent Alexander-theme in his work, since it fits Polybius’ narrative intentions.

N. Luraghi examines ‘The Demos as Narrator’ in chapter thirteen. This contribution looks at the cultural context of certain decrees which were monumentalized by the Athenian demos, and which in a sense created historical source material that goes beyond the limits of the text itself. K. Buraselis, Chapter fourteen, looks at narrative motives in city-foundation legends from the reign of Alexander and the Hellenistic period which attained a divine aureole. Tanja (not Tania in the Table of Contents) Scheer continues the theme of foundation legends by looking at Arkadia during Roman imperial times in Chapter fifteen. Addressed is a range of interesting questions, including ‘Why Phrygians, Mysians and Bithynians did not seek to connect themselves to Athens straight away, but held onto tales of Arkadian descent?’ The answer is not completely straightforward, but issues like perceived age, levels of education and cultivation, and veneration come into play.

The volume moves toward a conclusion with the last three chapters: Nicola Di Cosmo changes the discussion from Greece to Han period China by looking at the ethnography of nomads and ‘barbarians’. The interesting case study seems a bit out of place but presents good comparisons for similar methodologies in the classical world. Chapter seventeen by J. Grethlein is entitled ‘Beyond intentional history’ and takes an explicitly philosophical view to the experience of memory and the phenomenological concept of contingency. He then examines the genealogy of Glaukos (Iliad 6.145-211) as an example, and concludes with a juxtaposition of heroic with historicist ideas of history. The volume ends with K. Vlassopoulos’ chapter (eighteen) which attempts to show that modern conceptions of antiquity and modernity were formulated during the eighteenth century. Distanciation, alterity, proximity, and immanency are historical modes defined and examined.

The book is wide ranging, and it is unfortunate that a coherent concluding chapter was not included to tie the many strings of thought together. There are also some editorial problems that might have been better addressed before going to press. Two glaring typographical errors in the table of contents (Chapter 11: ‘Pat’ rather than ‘Past’ Chapter 15: Tania Scheer rather than Tanja Scheer) are but two examples. A list of contributors and an index would also have been appreciated. But these quibbles aside, the contributions are a useful overview of a lively subfield in historical research today as it concerns the Greek past.

Chapter titles and contributors

1. Introduction (Foxhall and Luraghi)
2. Representations of the past in Greek culture (Gehrke)
3. Myth as past? On the temporal aspect of Greek depictions of legend (Giuliani)
4. The Trojan War’s reception in early Greek lyric, iambic and elegiac poetry (Bowie)
5. The Great rhetra (Plut. Lyc. 6): a retrospective and intentional construct? (Nafissi)
6. Collective identities, imagined past, and Delphi (Giangiulio)
7. Fish heads and mussel-shells: visualizing Greek identity (Skinner)
8. Media for Theseus, or the different images of the Athenian polis-hero (von den Hoff)
9. Ulterior motives in ancient historiography: what exactly, and why? (Raaflaub)
10. Tragic memories of Dionysos (Schlesier)
11. Connecting with the pa[s]t in Lykourgan Athens: an epigraphic perspective (Lambert)
12. Intentional history: Alexander, Demosthenes and Thebes (Worthington)
13. The demos as narrator: public honors and the construction of future and past (Luraghi)
14. God and king as synoikists: divine disposition and monarchic wishes combined in the traditions of city foundations for Alexander’s and Hellenistic times (Buraselis)
15. “They that held Arkadia”: Arcadian foundation myths as intentional history in Roman Imperial times (Tania [sic] Scheer)
16. Ethnography of the Nomads and “Barbarian” History in Han China (Di Cosmo)
17. Beyond intentional history: a phenomenological model of the idea of history (Grethlein)
18. Constructing antiquity and modernity in the eighteenth century: distantiation, alterity, proximity, immanency (Vlassopoulos)

1. Gehrke, H.-J. 2001, “Myth, history, and collective identity: uses of the past in ancient Greece and beyond,” in N. Luraghi (ed.) The Historian’s Craft in the Age of Herodotus, Oxford, 286-313.

Social Studies Materials

Science units are available to purchase from Kendall Hunt and Prufrock Press. We encourage you to purchase the materials directly from our publishers, and you can do so by clicking on each book’s title.

Thinking Like a Geographer focuses on high-interest, career-related topics in the elementary curriculum related to geography. Students will explore interdisciplinary content, foster creativity, and develop higher order thinking skills with activities aligned to relevant content area standards. Students will develop and practice geography skills, such as reading and creating maps, graphs, and charts examining primary and secondary sources and thinking spatially on a variety of scales. 

This unit for students in grades 2𔃁 is designed around the idea that human civilizations develop and sustain themselves as a collection of interdependent systems. The civilization of ancient Egypt forms the central content of the unit, with exploration of systems of agriculture, economics, language, and leadership in this ancient culture. The unit also provides opportunities for students to broaden their understanding by comparing the ancient Egyptian civilization with aspects of their own lives and communities. This unit may be used in conjunction with Ancient China: The Middle Kingdom for a broader exploration of ancient civilizations. 2003 Winner of a National Association for Gifted Children Curriculum Division Award for Outstanding Curriculum

The concept of systems is the foundation for this unit, which explores ancient China to demonstrate the interdependent systems that develop and sustain a civilization. The unit explores systems of agriculture, language, leadership, and trade in ancient China, using models for reasoning and document analysis to support student understanding. Students in grades 2𔃁 also have opportunities to broaden their understanding by comparing the ancient Chinese civilization with aspects of their own lives and communities. This unit may be used in conjunction with Ancient Egypt: Gift of the Nile for a broader exploration of ancient civilizations. 2004 Winner of a National Association for Gifted Children Curriculum Division Award for Outstanding Curriculum

This unit for students in grades 4𔃃 begins with an in-depth study of the interrelationships between the Chesapeake Bay System and both the Native Americans and the early English colonists in Virginia. The unit then turns to an exploration of the economic, social, and political systems of early America across the colonies, comparing and contrasting lifestyles of different groups in different regions. Frameworks for reasoning and document analysis support students in their explorations of this period of history. 2007 Winner of a National Association for Gifted Children Curriculum Division Award for Outstanding Curriculum

Intensive document analysis and exploration of the concept of cause and effect form the foundation of this unit exploring the Revolutionary Period in American history. For students in grades 4𔃃, the unit explores the chronology and major events leading up to and during the Revolutionary War and uses primary sources to demonstrate the social and political context. The contributions of particular individuals and groups to the history of the time are also highlighted.

The concept of cause and effect serves as a central organizing theme of this unit, which explores the events and perspectives leading to the American Civil War and the chronology and context of the war itself. Using primary source documents as a major resource, students in grades 5𔃄 investigate the social, political, and economic influences that were significant in this period of history. In addition, the unit focuses on particular individuals and groups and their contributions and responses to the events of the time. 2005 Winner of a National Association for Gifted Children Curriculum Division Award for Outstanding Curriculum

Centered on a variety of primary sources, including music and advertisements as well as more traditional documents, this unit provides insight into not only the events, but also the values, lifestyles, and experiences of the period of the 1920s. Students in grades 6𔃅 explore the concept of cause and effect and how it relates to the events of the time, gaining a deeper level of appreciation and understanding as they look at the ways different aspects of the era interact with and influence one another. 2002 Winner of a National Association for Gifted Children Curriculum Division Award for Outstanding Curriculum

This unit for students in grades 6𔃅 explores Depression-era America from the perspective of many different groups of people, utilizing a variety of primary sources to illustrate events and the social-political context. The concept of cause and effect is employed to support student understanding of the complexity of history. The unit emphasizes the interplay of changes in geography, government, and the economy, as well as the influence of particular individuals and groups, to deepen student understanding of the period.

This is an interdisciplinary humanities unit for students in grades 6𔃆 that looks at literature, art, and music of the 1950s to provide an understanding of how those living through the decade experienced and felt about the world around them. Through the lens of “identity,” it explores life in America and the myriad groups that coexisted in harmony and, often, with friction. Cultural icons like Elvis and the Beat poets are examined alongside larger issues such as the Cold War, conformity, and Civil Rights struggles.

For students in grades 6𔃆, this is an interdisciplinary humanities unit that looks at literature, art, and music of the 1960s to provide an understanding of how those living through the decade experienced and felt about the many social changes taking place around them. Through the lens of “identity,” it explores why these changes occurred and lends an ear to the voices of the groups that clamored for them. Cultural icons like the Kennedys, the Beatles, Andy Warhol, and the Beach Boys are examined alongside larger issues such as the Civil Rights and women’s rights movements and the Vietnam War.

The concept of systems forms the basis for this exploration of American government, particularly focused on the processes involved in the election of the President and the constitutional context of these processes. Students in grades 6𔃆 investigate the chronology of campaign and election and study documents and statistics related to Presidential elections in American history. In addition, the unit explores the concept of leadership as it emerges both in the process of being elected and in the context of being a President.

This unit for students in grades 9-10 is intended to support students in their development of the skills of the historian, particularly in the area of document analysis. It provides a collection of primary source documents and strategies for engaging students with these documents that will deepen and extend their skills in analyzing and interpreting written historical contributions. The unit lessons may be used as stand-alone pieces as they fit throughout a year’s curriculum or addressed as a whole unit on the historical analysis process.

Defining Nations: Cultural Identity and Political Tensions

This unit for students in grades 9-10 is designed around the concepts of nationalism and identity as interrelated ideas that affect events and decisions throughout the world. Unit lessons explore recent changes and conflicts, giving students multiple opportunities to analyze events based on a developing understanding of how the ideas of nationalism and identity apply to specific situations.

This unit for students in grades 10󈝸 focuses on the concept of authority and how the Renaissance and Reformation period was defined by changing notions of political and religious authority. The unit traces the background of the Renaissance and Reformation through exploration of the Mediterranean world in medieval times, and then engages students in analysis of various influences on changing conceptions of the Church and of political leadership and authority. In addition, the unit explores the cultural changes occurring in the Renaissance and their influence on the past and present. Students engage in extensive primary source analysis and structured reasoning as they explore how political, religious, and economic authority were constituted and legitimized throughout the period.

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5. Conclusion

Those sympathetic to empiricism may be inclined to portray this history as a progress from darkness to light. But a moment&rsquos reflection suggests it deserves a more cautious evaluation. These ancient and medieval thinkers certainly laid the foundations on which early modern and modern empiricists would build. But they also bequeathed a series of problems, some of which have never been satisfactorily resolved.

There are, first of all, the problems faced by the Epicureans, who were genetic but not explanatory empiricists, favouring the atomist theory of Leucippus and Democritus. As Democritus seems to have realized, while the atomist doctrine can be supported by observable facts (such as the fact of motion), once formulated it seems to undercut a belief in the reliability of such observations. At the very least, it suggests a distinction between what would later be called &ldquoprimary&rdquo and &ldquosecondary&rdquo qualities, narrowing the range of the kind of experiences to which natural philosophers would appeal.

The Epicureans also seem to have come up against another enduring problem: that of the underdetermination of theory by data. If the senses cannot directly &ldquobear witness&rdquo to the existence of what cannot be observed, being able only to bear witness against it, there may be a number of apparently equally acceptable hypotheses about the unobservable. One could argue, as Epicureans seem to have done, that these should all be regarded as true, in the sense of being realized somewhere and at some time. But this seems unsatisfactory when it comes to explaining particular events.

More broadly, there is the problem of just what experience can show. Can experience be a source of mathematical or logical knowledge? Can it reveal the causal relations that are traditionally regarded as the goal of science? Aristotle, as we saw, seems to have held that the mind has the power of identifying the causal powers that belong to particular kinds of entities. But it was never clear that experience alone could achieve such an insight. Medieval discussions of the &ldquoagent intellect&rdquo tended to regard it as an external power, or, at least, a human faculty that participates in a divine light. Thinkers such as Henry of Ghent went further, embracing the Augustinian idea that an act of divine illumination is required on each occasion we attain such insights. Under the impact of Aristotelian naturalism this idea was abandoned, but without (it must be said) any clear alternative.

Later empiricists could (and did) follow Ockham in denying that there are universals to be discovered they professed to be undisturbed by the fact that we cannot grasp the &ldquoreal essences&rdquo of the objects we perceive (Locke Essay 3.6.9). But the problems of empiricism did not go away. Even one of the empiricist&rsquos favorite ideas&mdashthe &ldquocovering law&rdquo account of scientific explanation&mdashassumes we can arrive at true generalizations, propositions that apply to all members of a particular class. But for those who take Ockham&rsquos nominalism to its logical conclusion, a law of nature can be nothing more than a contingently true proposition. Since the similarities that fix class membership have no metaphysical grounding, not being based on a shared nature, we cannot know the truth of the law by any kind of rational insight. The only way of testing such a proposition is by observation. It is at this point that there arises the &ldquoproblem of induction,&rdquo first discussed by Sextus Empiricus and picked up by Nicholas of Autrecourt.

The problems, however, go beyond that of induction. If laws of nature are to be distinguished from accidental generalizations, they must be thought to embody modal knowledge, particularly as this relates to contrary-to-fact conditionals (Armstrong 1978: 274). Epicurus seems to have somewhat naïvely believed that &ldquoin grasping the phenomena, we grasp how things can and must be&rdquo (Allen 2004: 98). But it is far from clear how observation could lead to such insights. If Epicurus was naïve in this respect, the same could be said of many modern empiricists.

This article began with the observation that we should not approach ancient thinkers in a &ldquoWhiggish&rdquo fashion nor should we force their thought into modern categories. But what this history shows is that there is no need to do so. Once we understand what these thinkers were saying, we can see that many of their questions remain what medievals called quaestiones disputatae, with which we are still grappling.

Watch the video: Journals Rome Building an Empire (December 2022).

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