Thursday, May 13, 2021

924: Looking at the sky......

When a new tribe in the Amazon is discovered and we look at it with our Western eyes, people used to call such a tribe "primitive".


In our lecture, we are talking about people who lived 3000 years BC. My goodness, that must have been "primitive" too.


But these Babylonians developed, no, invented mathematics. They discovered that you can apply the results of your mathematical calculations to reality.


This made me realize that this connotation of "primitive" is a mistake. I should get rid of it. What we are dealing with are people that do not differ at all from us with respect to their brains.


Their brain functioned in the same manner as our today's brain. If you look at it from a historical perspective, not only did the growth in the size of our brains cease around 200,000 years ago, 


in the past 10,000 to 15,000 years the average size of the human brain compared with our body has shrunk by 3 or 4 percent. 


Some see this as no cause for concern. Size, after all, isn’t everything, and it’s perfectly possible that the brain has simply evolved to make better use of less grey and white matter. 


That would seem to fit with some genetic studies, which suggest that our brain’s wiring is more efficient now than it was in the past.


Long ago I already realized that man hasn't changed that much if you look at literature. The stories in ancient books tell the same tales as those in our current books.


The main point is, that the brain hasn't evolved further in the past  30.000 years. What has evolved is the context in which this brain lives.


The Babylonians took their mathematics a step further. The step from mathematics to astronomy was small in ancient times. 


This had everything to do with the importance of calendars, which are, after all, both arithmetic and astronomical in nature. 


The starry sky was studied all over the world, but it was the Babylonians who were the first to apply mathematics to it. 


Knowledge of stars and planets was considered important for agriculture, forecasting weather, disasters and wars, and for identifying omens. 


Like other ancient peoples, the Babylonians believed that the gods gave directions for the future through the celestial phenomena. 


The celestial observations were therefore primarily intended to get a grip on the world around them, but the Babylonians also discovered many astronomical patterns in these observations. 


One of the oldest astronomical clay tablets dates back to the time of King Ammizaduqa, great-grandson of the great King Hammurabi (seventeenth century BC). 


This so-called Venus tablet of Ammizaduqa lists the rise and setting of the planet Venus with accompanying astrological interpretations about climate, disease, war, love and more. 

The tablet contains the oldest known formulation of a pattern in the movement of a planet. We have previously noted 


that the moon and sun show recurring patterns in the sky that have been noted since the prehistoric era. 


Planets, however, were of a different nature: they looked like wandering stars that moved irregularly between the fixed stars. 


Their erratic movement is, we now know, because planets have their own orbital time around the sun, which differs from the orbital time of the earth. 


This makes their movement in the firmament look like complex loops with retrograde movements. In reality, the planets are not making retrograde loop movements. They just orbit the sun in a circular orbit, but the Babylonians could not know that. 


Nevertheless, they were among the first to demonstrate what it means to discover applied mathematics and patterns and principles in the world around them. 


Thank you for your attention again.....


MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Rens Bod: "Een Wereld vol Patronen".  2019


The Discussion


[13:24] herman Bergson: The point today is that there is no difference between the homo sapiens of 3000 years ago and us

[13:24] Laila Schuman: there is evidence that the Native Americans had noted the change of seasons...and recorded the time of change of season (because of food)...

[13:24] herman Bergson: We aren't smarter than them

[13:24] Laila Schuman: very early on

[13:24] Laila Schuman: equinox etc

[13:24] CB Axel: They had to come up with some fancy maths to understand the paths of the planets.

[13:24] herman Bergson: all on this earth did it one way or the other

[13:25] CB Axel: They didn't know that those planets and the earth all circle the sun.

[13:25] herman Bergson: It means that you had  to have a high IQ and spent a lot of time on studying

[13:25] CB Axel nods

[13:26] CB Axel: How did they find the time? Wasn't everyone busy just trying to make a living?

[13:26] herman Bergson: We tend to think that WE are the smartest in history....but we aren't

[13:26] CB Axel: Or did early mathematicians get paid to understand what the gods were telling them via the stars?

[13:26] herman Bergson: I read something about water clocks, CB

[13:27] herman Bergson: which means that man in those days already had the inclination to measure and quantify time

[13:28] CB Axel: They certainly were clever.

[13:28] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): but I guess it was a man's world, women had to do the work

[13:28] herman Bergson: Funny to think that they too asked the question...HOW LONG WILL THIS LAST.....

[13:28] CB Axel: How long will what last?

[13:28] (add) Chicken Handheld and click: Ciska Riverstone

[13:28] herman Bergson: so they needed an instrument to measure such an abstract thing as time

[13:29] herman Bergson: Those Babylonians had their Einsteins too

[13:29] CB Axel: Oh. So they needed to know things like when will the sunset?

[13:29] CB Axel: And then how many days until the moon's cycle is complete?

[13:30] herman Bergson: If they really had clocks, they wanted to know that I guess

[13:30] CB Axel: And how many moon cycles until they could plant crops, etc.

[13:30] herman Bergson: Remember.....base is 60

[13:30] herman Bergson: So now we have 60 minutes in an hour

[13:30] herman Bergson: 60 seconds in a minute

[13:31] herman Bergson: 6 x 60 = 360 degrees on the circle

[13:31] CB Axel: Yes. Our navigation is based on that.

[13:31] herman Bergson: The more you think about it, the more ingenious those people must have been in those days

[13:34] herman Bergson: The increase of knowledge changes the world and how we deal with reality.....

[13:34] herman Bergson: It is also the means we have to obtain knowledge

[13:35] herman Bergson: There is also a history of smart inventions, for instance

[13:35] Laila Schuman: access to education makes a HUGE difference...

[13:35] herman Bergson: indeed Laila...

[13:36] herman Bergson: these are all historical processes....

[13:36] herman Bergson: Warfare changed when gunpowder was invented

[13:37] herman Bergson: Looking at things was changed when lenses were invented

[13:37] herman Bergson: and so on...

[13:37] herman Bergson: medicine was changed when bacteria and causes of infection were discovered

[13:38] Laila Schuman: navigation was changed when they got clocks that worked on ships

[13:38] herman Bergson: Navigation changed when they invented the compass

[13:38] Laila Schuman: but to go far they also needed the clocks

[13:39] herman Bergson: yes

[13:40] herman Bergson: As you see....the drive to find patterns and principles had a huge effect on our existence

[13:40] herman Bergson: and this is just the beginning

[13:41] herman Bergson: If we have run out of questions and remarks.....time to end our session...

[13:41] herman Bergson: Class dismissed....

[13:41] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Thank you Herman

[13:41] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.

[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: Thank you herman


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