alexa Science before Socrates: Parmenides, Anaxagoras, and the New Astronomy


Journal of Astrophysics & Aerospace Technology

Author(s): Daniel Graham

Abstract Share this page

Historians of science hold that the Presocratic philosophers had scientific attitudes but did not produce any empirical science and that the first Greek science, astronomy, did not develop until the time of Plato or later. This study argues that Presocratic philosophers made significant advances in the study of astronomy that deserve to be considered as scientific contributions. In the early fifth century BC, Parmenides recognized that the moon gets its light from the sun. Building on this insight, Anaxagoras developed a theory according to which the moon and other heavenly bodies were spherical masses, and eclipses were caused by the blocking of the sun’s light. When we compare cosmological theories of the sixth century BC with those of the fifth, we find that the former treated astronomical phenomena as continuous with meteorological events, while the latter treated heavenly bodies as independent stony masses whirled in a cosmic vortex. Two historic events help to date and account for the change: a solar eclipse in 478 BC, and a meteoroid that fell to earth at the time a comet was visible, around 466. Both events are linked to Anaxagoras. There is evidence that Anaxagoras’ theory, together with the heavenly events that “confirmed” it, changed philosophers’ conceptions of the cosmos. After Anaxagoras, virtually all philosophers accepted his theory of lunar light. Aristotle held up Anaxagoras’ theory of eclipses as a paradigm of scientific explanation. These principles mark the beginning of a geometrical treatment of astronomy, and have been accepted by astronomers ever since.

  • To read the full article Visit
  • Subscription
This article was published in Oxford Scholarship Online and referenced in Journal of Astrophysics & Aerospace Technology

Relevant Expert PPTs

Relevant Speaker PPTs

Peer Reviewed Journals
Make the best use of Scientific Research and information from our 700 + peer reviewed, Open Access Journals
International Conferences 2017-18
Meet Inspiring Speakers and Experts at our 3000+ Global Annual Meetings

Contact Us

Agri, Food, Aqua and Veterinary Science Journals

Dr. Krish

1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9040

Clinical and Biochemistry Journals

Datta A

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9037

Business & Management Journals


1-702-714-7001Extn: 9042

Chemical Engineering and Chemistry Journals

Gabriel Shaw

1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9040

Earth & Environmental Sciences

Katie Wilson

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9042

Engineering Journals

James Franklin

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9042

General Science and Health care Journals

Andrea Jason

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9043

Genetics and Molecular Biology Journals

Anna Melissa

1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9006

Immunology & Microbiology Journals

David Gorantl

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9014

Informatics Journals

Stephanie Skinner

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9039

Material Sciences Journals

Rachle Green

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9039

Mathematics and Physics Journals

Jim Willison

1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9042

Medical Journals

Nimmi Anna

1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9038

Neuroscience & Psychology Journals

Nathan T

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9041

Pharmaceutical Sciences Journals

John Behannon

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9007

Social & Political Science Journals

Steve Harry

1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9042

© 2008-2017 OMICS International - Open Access Publisher. Best viewed in Mozilla Firefox | Google Chrome | Above IE 7.0 version