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The Ambitions of Curiosity: Understanding the World in Ancient Greece and China (Ideas in Context) Paperback – October 21, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0521894616 ISBN-10: 0521894611
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The Ambitions of Curiosity: Understanding the World in Ancient Greece and China (Ideas in Context) + Galileo, Courtier: The Practice of Science in the Culture of Absolutism (Science and Its Conceptual Foundations series)
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Editorial Reviews


"G.E.R. Lloyd has produced an important work...recommended." Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Book Description

In The Ambitions of Curiosity one of the world's foremost philosophers of science takes a wider canvas than conventional histories of science and investigates the origins of systematic inquiry in science, historiography and the study of language itself. Focussing on Greece, China, and Mesopotamia, Geoffrey Lloyd shows how research developed differently in those ancient societies and examines why. He illustrates the unexpected results of many research efforts, the tensions between state control and individual innovation and the different ways those tensions were resolved--problems that remain central to science today.

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Product Details

  • Series: Ideas in Context (Book 64)
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (October 21, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521894611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521894616
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,203,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris Crawford on December 31, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The easiest review statement I can make about this book is this: it is not for civilians. Instead, this is a book for scholars. It is dense. It assumes that the reader is already acquainted with Greek and Chinese intellectual history.

Mr. Lloyd is certainly one of the world's greatest authorities on the comparison of Greek and Chinese intellectual history; he reads both ancient Greek and Chinese. His erudition is truly astounding; he brings to bear knowledge of obscure writings from both traditions. And his overall conclusions are supported with overwhelming evidence.

Those conclusions are that the classical Greek and Chinese intellectual traditions were similar in some specific ways and different in others. The biggest difference is the whole point and purpose of intellectual inquiry in the two civilizations. The Greek thinker sought to gain a reputation for erudition by publicly defeating competitors in open debate. The Greeks were argumentative; their intellectual history explodes with intense disagreement. Everybody had something to criticize about everybody else. Indeed, so deeply was this instinct insinuated into Greek culture that students of a great teacher would sometimes set up rival schools where they denounced the errors of their teachers.

Chinese intellectual culture was the antithesis of confrontation. To openly criticize another thinker or idea was taboo; students never challenged their teachers but instead asked respectful questions. Thinkers advanced their ideas by the most tactful of methods, never criticizing another thinker; instead, they proposed to extend or describe minor exceptions to another's statements.

The institutional support for intellectual inquiry was completely different in the two civilizations.
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The Ambitions of Curiosity: Understanding the World in Ancient Greece and China (Ideas in Context)
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