IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
GREAT JOB MR. PARMAR
it is good to eat as many as vegetables and fruits (totally vegetarian), but my aurvedic doctor asked me to stop eating every...
SCIENCE, A FOUR THOUSAND YEAR OLD HISTORY • by Patricia Fara • Oxford University Press • Price Rs 800
Scientists like to see science as a relentless advance towards ‘the truth’. Historians have long shown science, like all streams of thought, is not innocent of social conditions. But very little of their research has escaped from the academy. Many of our textbooks date the birth of science to 1660 when the Royal Society was founded in London by the followers of Francis Bacon who argued that knowledge could come only by testing ideas through experiments. In Science, A Four Thousand Year Old History, Patricia Fara contests this understanding. The Cambridge University historian places the roots of science in ancient Babylon where court advisers watched the skies to glean portents. Their observations were not seen as scientific because they were trying to correlate the movements of heavenly bodies with political events. But for Fara, their ends do not invalidate the endeavours in the second millennium before Christ gave us the 60-minute hour, the seven-day week and the 360 degree circle. The book is a reminder that the roots of science cannot be disentangled from what modern age calls superstition. Astrology provided astronomy its database; chemistry would have been impossible without alchemy. Newton was a theologian and an alchemist; he retained God and secret powers within his cosmology. In this book, Fara contests the Eurocentric view that “in the Great Race towards scientific truth,” the Arabs, Indians and Chinese were hundred-yard runners, soon overtaken by the marathon endurance of Western Europe and its new world offshoot. The dark ages, considered a blot in European history when art, literature and science took a backseat, was a golden period in China and the Arabic world. Scholars such as Abu Ali al-Husain ibn Sina, whose encyclopaedia on medicine was an important contribution, made scientific breakthroughs. Fara does not undermine the benefits of modern science. But she finds science is sometimes for hire, the handmaiden of commerce and the errand boy of governments.