Today Eratosthenes' method [of calculating the circumference of the earth] seems almost banal … yet it is inaccessible to prescientific civilizations, and in all of Antiquity not a single Latin author succeeded in stating it coherently.
Histories of scientific thought tend to obscure the revolutionary state of knowledge in the age of Archimedes the Hellenistic period toning down the differences between it, the natural philosophy of classical Greece two centuries earlier, and even the prescientific knowledge of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia .
The pre-scientific age, whatever its deficiencies, had at least offered its members the peace of mind that follows from knowing all man-made achievements to be nothing next to the grandeur of the universe. We, more blessed in our gadgetry but less humble in our outlook, have been left … having no more compelling repository of veneration than our brilliant, precise, blinkered and morally troubling fellow human beings.Alain de Botton
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