The Case of Thales' Ox: An historical limit to science (and its relation to religion)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

‘Science’ is a term which is widely used, to cover a variety of approaches and practices in humans’ study of the natural world. ‘Modern science’ is often regarded as arising in the wake of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment; but its roots clearly go back to earlier thinkers. Indeed, it has been alleged that these roots go back to the very earliest thinkers of whom we have historical information, the Greek philosophers of the Ionian school (6th century BCE). So, do these thinkers (insofar as we can reconstruct their ideas) represent an historical limit to science – is science as old as recorded Western European thought itself? And if so, what can be said about the relationship between science and religion at this historical limit? This paper focuses on the earliest of these thinkers, Thales of Miletus, and assesses the ways in which his thought may be considered to be ‘scientific’ in the modern sense, and in what senses it was ‘religious’. It would appear that Thales did not believe there to be any incongruity in holding together what might today be considered to be both religious and scientific understandings of the world.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAre There Limits to Science?
EditorsGillian Straine
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Pages113-120
ISBN (Print)9781443895811
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017

Publication series

NameConversations in Science and Religion

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