HoST Fall 2010

Tues/Thurs. starting at 4:00 in Babio 203

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Week of 10/19 and 10/21

No Class on Tuesday, Just Thursday.


Assignment 7


Cicada and Its Shell

This is an analogy from Lucretius, Book IV.


Lucretius and Exam I


Midterm Exam on Thursday.


I need your two essays (one long and one short) by Thursday. 

Email me if you are confused.


Updated: 10/18/10 12:29 PM


Tuesday: I'll be finishing up my lectures, talking about Lucretius and Ibn Tufayl, and talking about the Exam.


-Read in McClellan and Dorn pp. 128-140.  [Starting with "The World as Organism" on p128 and reading to the end of the chapter.]


-Read Book IV in Lucretius.


-Homework that all must do and turn in on Tuesday: As you read Book IV in Lucretius find or create at least 3 images (perhaps using GoogleImages or draw something...whatever) to illustrate his ideas.  [Because some of this chapter is on sex, you might want to avoid X-rated images, but an R rating is ok if it suits your ideas.]  With each image, give the phrase from Lucretius that inspired it, give the line numbers that are given in the margins of the book, and give a short explanation of your image.  So here are the bullet points:

a) at least 3 images inspired by Book IV.

b) quote passage from Lucretius and give the line numbers of that quotation.

c) comment on your image in relation to the text.  Not lazy comments, interesting comments.

d) fully cite Lucretius AND do the best you can to cite the source of your images.

            Because of the nature of this assignment, feel free to send these as attachments to an email.  If you do, please, please, please try to keep the file sizes under 3MB.


Thursday:  Exam I-

Updated: 10/18/2010

I've put review suggestions at the end of each assignment page (Ass0-Ass6, Ass7 is up to you.).  These are suggestions and should not be considered complete.  On a couple of pages I also put some links to my notes and/or power point slides. Use them at your own risk.  They are not always well organized... they are my notes to myself and at times may be strange.

You should study every reading assignment and put notes on your "Cheet-Sheet."  I suggest you put relevant dates and names and places on your "Cheet-Sheet."  I suggest you think over how this material fits together.  Think of how one natural philosopher might respond to another natural philosopher.

You should definitely have a good grip on Lucretius.

We'll discuss the exam a bit more on class on Tuesday.


Ideas: Aside from the obvious standard written essay you could also try to write a dialogue between Lucretius and another person we have studied... like Hayy from the Ibn Tufayl reading, or Aristotle, or Plato, or ???.   Cite where in the readings you got your ideas.  Feel free to imagine these people in a real world.  Make it into a short, short story.  Just be sure to demonstrate that you have read the readings.  We only read snippets of things, so if you might make a mistake here or there, but I'm not worried about that.  I want you to think. Making mistakes is a large part of writing.  Beautiful publishable essays do not spring up fully formed from gurgling mud pits.  Trying is all I can ask.  


Short Essay: You know the drill.

Long Essay: Twice the length and use at least one additional source provided below.


Cite all sources.  Cite them completely.  If you use an episode of In Our Time, try to at least identify where in the MP3 you heard what you cite and if possible identify the speaker. 

Additional Materials for the Long Essay


You may also use previous additional materials if you intend to write on Lucretius or have an idea on how to connect this week with things we worked on before.


Goodrich, L. Carrington, and Feng Chia-sheng. "The Early Development of Firearms in China." Isis 36, no. 2 (1946): 114-123.  Goodrich-EarlyFirearmsChina.pdf [1.1MB]


Johnson, Monte, and Catherine Wilson. "Lucretius and the History of Science." In The Cambridge Companion to Lucretius, ed. Stuart Gillespie and Philip R. Hardie, 131-148. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.  Johnson-Wilson-LucHoS-Cambridge.pdf [5.5MB]


Bragg, Melvyn. "The Needham Question - Did China Lay the Foundations of Modern Science." In In Our Time. London: BBC, 2006.  Needham Question - Did China lay the foundations of modern science.mp3 [16.8MB]

            -IOT [2006-10-19] Needham Question - Did China lay the foundations of modern science.mp3

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Needham Question; why Europe and not China developed modern technology.

What do these things have in common? Fireworks, wood-block printing, canal lock-gates, kites, the wheelbarrow, chain suspension bridges and the magnetic compass. The answer is that they were all invented in China, a country that, right through the Middle Ages, maintained a cultural and technological sophistication that made foreign dignitaries flock to its imperial courts for trade and favour. But then, around 1700, the flow of ingenuity began to dry up and even reverse as Europe bore the fruits of the scientific revolution back across the globe.

Why did Modern Science develop in Europe when China seemed so much better placed to achieve it? This is called the Needham Question, after Joseph Needham, the 20th century British Sinologist who did more, perhaps, than anyone else to try and explain it.

But did Joseph Needham give a satisfactory answer to the question that bears his name? Why did China’s early technological brilliance not lead to the development of modern science and how did momentous inventions like gunpowder and printing enter Chinese society with barely a ripple and yet revolutionize the warring states of Europe?

With Chris Cullen, Director of the Needham Research Institute in Cambridge; Tim Barrett, Professor of East Asian History at SOAS; Frances Wood, Head of Chinese Collections at the British Library.


Bragg, Melvyn. "Indian Mathematics - Laying the Foundations for Modern Numerals and Zero as a Number." In In Our Time. London: BBC, 2006. Indian Maths - Laying the foundations for modern numerals and zero as a number.mp3 [16.7MB]

-IOT [2006-12-14] Indian Maths - Laying the foundations for modern numerals and zero as a number.mp3

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the contribution Indian mathematicians have made to our understanding of the subject. Mathematics from the Indian subcontinent has provided foundations for much of our modern thinking on the subject. They were thought to be the first to use zero as a number. Our modern numerals have their roots there too. And mathematicians in the area that is now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were grappling with concepts such as infinity centuries before Europe got to grips with it. There’s even a suggestion that Indian mathematicians discovered Pythagoras’ theorem before Pythagoras.

Some of these advances have their basis in early religious texts which describe the geometry necessary for building falcon-shaped altars of precise dimensions. Astronomical calculations used to decide the dates of religious festivals also encouraged these mathematical developments.

So how were these advances passed on to the rest of the world? And why was the contribution of mathematicians from this area ignored by Europe for centuries?

With George Gheverghese Joseph, Honorary Reader in Mathematics Education at Manchester University; Colva Roney-Dougal, Lecturer in Pure Mathematics at the University of St Andrews; Dennis Almeida, Lecturer in Mathematics Education at Exeter University and the Open University.


Bragg, Melvyn. "The Han Synthesis - Creating the Chinese Cosmos." In In Our Time. London: BBC, 2004. Han Synthesis - Creating the Chinese cosmos.mp3 [14.3MB]

-IOT [2004-10-14] Han Synthesis - Creating the Chinese cosmos.mp3

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Han Synthesis philosophies of China. In The Analects the Chinese sage Confucius says of statecraft: "He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn to it".

Confucianism had been all but outlawed under the Chin Emperor, but in 206 BC the Han dynasty came to power and held sway for over 400 years. They brought Confucian thought to the heart of government, his favourite books became set texts for the world's first civil service exam and in a grand intellectual project 'The Great Tao' was combined with 'The Five Phases' and with the Yin and the Yang.

Who were the Han? How did they bring these strands of thought together into the great founding moment of Chinese culture? And what drove them to their extraordinary intellectual task?

With Christopher Cullen, Director of the Needham Research Institute; Carol Michaelson, Assistant Keeper of Chinese Art in the Department of Asia at the British Museum; Roel Sterckx, Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Cambridge.


Bragg, Melvyn. "Anatomy - 2000 years of Anatomical Study." In In Our Time. London: BBC, 2004. Anatomy - 2000 years of anatomical study.mp3 [11.2MB]

-IOT [2002-02-14] Anatomy - 2000 years of anatomical study

Melvyn Bragg examines the history of mankind's quest to understand the human body. The Greeks thought we were built like pigs, and when Renaissance man first cut his sacred flesh it was an act of heresy. We trace the noble ambitions of medical science to the murky underworld of Victorian grave robbing, we trace 2000 years of anatomical study.

From the great showman Vesalius, enthralling the Renaissance Artists in the operating theatres of Italy to the sad and gruesome pursuits of Burke and Hare, Anatomy is mankind's often frustrated attempt to understand the body of man. What role has science, religion and art played in the quest to understand the male and the female body?

With Harold Ellis, Clinical Anatomist, School of Biomedical Sciences, King's College, London; Ruth Richardson, Historian, and author of Death, Dissection and the Destitute, Phoenix Press; Andrew Cunningham, Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in the History of Medicine, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge University.



Interesting Sciencey-Techy News


Angier- Moonlighting as a Conjurer of Chemicals-Newton the Alchemist-NYTimes 10/12/2010

We may read this in a few weeks when we discuss Newton.



Blakeslee-"Scientists Induce Out-of-Body Sensation" Blakeslee_NYT_Out-of-Body.htm NYTimes 2007.

This has some similarities to Hayy's out-or-body experiences.


Holt_MistakenIdentityTheory.htm - This is just generally fun. Precursoritis, it's called in the biz.

Back to HoST Fall 2010 Syllabus


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Images that I've found evocative in relation to Lucretian Sensory Theory.