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Credibility of Greek philosophers, etc.

  1. Very

    4 vote(s)
  2. Kinda

    5 vote(s)
  3. Don't know

    2 vote(s)
  4. Not Very

    1 vote(s)
  5. Not at all

    0 vote(s)
  1. Oct 3, 2003 #1
    PLEASE DO NOT REPLY (but do vote) until I have posted a second time, stating a secondary topic for this thread, thanks. (PS: Sorry again Ivan, I'll do it right this time!)
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 3, 2003 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    No problem. :smile:
  4. Oct 3, 2003 #3


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    Uh... mind if I break the rule a bit, but credibility isn't exactly an absolute scale. In other words, give us a modern philosopher that you find credible.

    In fact, is credibility in fact something aimed for by philosophy in general? An atheist would for example find aristotle more credible than aquinas, and a theist the other way round.
  5. Oct 3, 2003 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    I think that in this context credibility is measured as the rigor of one's logic.
  6. Oct 3, 2003 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    By the way FZ+, congrats on being the "Other Sciences" Expert of the Year!
  7. Oct 4, 2003 #6
    Yes, I was refering to Greek thinkers in general, can their logic/judgement/claims be trusted. Well, I wanted to wait until more poeple had replied, but there is a majority of people who think the Greek thinkers are credible (a point I wanted to make in the light of the secondary topic I'm about to mention), before posting a second time. You may have heard what I'm about to say, I read it on the net and was skeptical, so I went to a bookstore and it is true.

    In Herodotus' "The Histories", passages 75-76, he speaks of 'flying snakes' in ancient Egypt. He claims to have seen a ditch/pit filled with their skeletons, and that their wings are featherless, like bat wings. Obviously, this sounds like a myth, but in a passage shortly before he talked about the Pheonix myth, and mentioned that he doesn't think there is any credibility to it, which tells us that he isn't just blindly repeating folklore, but critically analysing what he is told. He goes on to say that the natural predator of these creatures is the ibis (specifically: black?). Somewhere else in the book (possibly the same area, I don't remember), he says that these (or similar) 'flying snakes' hang out/live in the frankincense groves of southern Arabia (near Buto, Yemen?) and protect the groves from thevies, (I guess some/all 'flying snakes' are poisonous), and that to harvest the frankincense, the Arabians have to burn some frankincense to smoke them out.

    Now, everyone post, I want to hear opinions! (And hold back ones that just say "BS!", without specifically mentioning arguements why.)
  8. Oct 4, 2003 #7
    Hello?! I think I just heard a pin drop, or was that just in my head?
  9. Oct 5, 2003 #8
    Please someone post, do you guys think it's true? How could it be? If not, Herodotus is wrong, if so, evolution is wrong. (Assuming that I'm correctly interpreting 'flying snake' as being a form of extinct dinosaur.)
  10. Oct 5, 2003 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    Interesting. I'm not sure why we don't see a response here. Perhaps this question is too broad. Also, you did ask people not to post...or do you mean votes?

    You could try changing your leading post.

    Would you like me to move this to the philosophy forum?

    By the way, my vote was for very credible. The conclusions were generally flawed, often because of a false premise, but I found that what I studied were often surprisingly powerful and insightful arguments.
  11. Oct 6, 2003 #10
    Well, going out on a limb here, it is possible that the flying snakes were real animals. They may have only existed in that one small part of the world. How they came to be is a greater part of the mystery than how they disappeared: if he saw a pit full of their skeletons it is clear the Egyptians were killing them whenever they could to collect the spice more conveniently.

    I wouldn't suspect they were dinosaur throwbacks so much as mutant snakes or lizards.
  12. Oct 6, 2003 #11

    as an historian whose area is the aegian civilizations from 500bc---400ad, I would have to say that the history we have is very accurate. One cannot "lump" history and philosophy, just as one cannot ask if one's "Math and poetry" are such and such. The history is very good, the philosophy is very stoic, and therefore very logic driven. It would very much depend on which school of philosophy one were speaking of, what era, what area, etc. The poll is very difficult to judge, as it assumes many aspects which are unclear.

    That's my opinion anyway.

  13. Oct 6, 2003 #12


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    Heroditus was a fairly gullible man. He wrote many bizarre things from hearsay. He also presented his opinions on many matters as fact. I would not take him to task for this; there was not much of a standard to go by at the time.

    This make Thucydides all the more impressive. He was rigorous in his pursuit of truth, analyzing motivations and sources.

  14. Oct 6, 2003 #13


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    Jonathan, I posted kinda, and I had Herodotus and Thucidides' made up speeches in mind. But you said thinkers and philosophers.

    Philosophy is an art form and Plato and Aristotle have never gone out of fashion any more than doric and ionic architecture have.

    And greek mathematics still rules today. The axiomatic approach is as valid today as it was in Euclid's time.
  15. Oct 6, 2003 #14


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    Flying snakes are a small group of species of tree snakes that live in South and Southeast Asia. At rest they appear unremarkable, but on the move they're able to take to the air by jumping from the tree, flattening the entire body, and gliding or parachuting to the ground or another tree. This site is dedicated to documenting the science of these unique animals.
  16. Oct 6, 2003 #15
  17. Oct 7, 2003 #16
    Yes, bat wings, but in your previous post you got the info wrong, I am only aware that the flying snakes lived in frankincense groves in the Arabian peninsula. If I remember correctly, they migrated to/through Egypt, the Egyptians apparently regarding them like rats. Now, as for mutant snakes or lizards, I don't think so. A mutation to produce bat wings on a snake is major, and wouldn't likely have arissen, leading to large populations, and then apparent extinction, so quickly, but who knows? As for Herodotus' credibility, one should note that he was the one who came up with the seven wonders of the world thing, (I think.)
  18. Oct 7, 2003 #17
    Yes, I see that I didn't pay attention to the Arabian Peninsula part.

    As far as the speed of evolution, they are recently coming to the realization that it is more likely to happen in big leaps than by slow, gradual change. One example that happened before their very eyes was the sudden jump in the population of big billed birds on the galapagos resulting from a blight that killed off plants whose seeds were easily eaten with small bills. The birds who could manage the remaining harder seeds suddenly flourished and the others did not.

    Since present day flying snakes are in fact, merely gliding snakes, I think it is well within the realm of possibility that there might once have evolved a subspecies with appendeges that resembled bat wings. These wouldn't have had to be flapped like bats do with their wings. They could simply have functioned as a refinement of the gliding effect still observed today.

    I still think this is much more likely than a leftover from the age of dinosaurs.

  19. Oct 7, 2003 #18


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    1+1 does not equal 5

    Therefore, Santa Claus exists.

    The rejection of one myth does not grant you instant credibility to make any claim you wish to make. We have to judge this in the context of other testimonies - Herodotus appears alone in his claim, and presents no concrete evidence. (And how could he have realised the wings had no feathers and were like bat wings from their skeletons)?)

    Besides evolution hardly features in this matter. Darwin never said no dinosaurs could have survived - in fact, birds are generally agreed to be very close descendents to the extinct dinos.

    My theory. He heard of pythons from Egypt with flanges on the side of their heads. He saw pits with a mixture of bones in them. He presumed that the flanges they saw was in fact wings, and put in some story from far enough away that no one could check his tale. He exaggerated. Not that uncommon for his time.
  20. Oct 8, 2003 #19
    That is a good point but I was going more toward a discussion that assumed more credibility that you're giving him. I like the example you give for credibility, and I didn't mean that my passage about the phoenix PROVES anything more than that he doesn't believe everything he hears. If I remember correctly, the passage is fuzzy as to whether he actually saw live ones, but for the sake of arguement I was also assuming that he did. Herodotus isn't alone in his claims of usual lizard/disosaur things. There is the italian scientist Ulysses Aldrovanus, Native American legends of the Thunderbird, and the most extreme: a claim of some sort of Leviathan-type creature, like Kronosaurus, from the crew of a U-boat in WWI! (Apparently, it surfaced momentarily due to injuries from the U-boat's attack on a (British?) ship.) I haven't mentioned these because I know next to nothing about them, and there are others too, too many to count, if one is willing to consider the validity of the dragon legends of the middle ages. An example of a known creature that could inspire a sea serpent legend is the Or (or Oar?) fish, and it literally looks like a chinese dragon too.
    Now, about zoobyshoes's post, I really like his explaination, except that I got the impression from Herodotus that they flew under their own power, not a mere glide, but I'm splitting hairs here.
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