Nate Garden Bard
  • Member since Jan 9th 2018

Posts by Nate

    Absolutely. I think the mistake is on the behalf of the inquirer. Questions about measuring the relative geometric proportions of celestial objects implies that Epicurus had such an answer, or, more importantly, cared about it, which I think he did not.


    He recognized that we had a functional understanding of the immeasurably large, immeasurably distant spheres above the terrestrial regions of the World, so there was no need to posit any number, large, or small, as the predominant view seems to imply.

    That's a good point and it makes me consider a few other things:


    The Heliocentric model, itself, was in need of being tweaked for systems with binary stars (which are actually the most common types of systems in the universe), so Epicurus' model is consistent with contemporary relativity. That also applies to any systems (WARNING: EXTREME SPECULATION) with life-holding worlds that have stable orbits around Black Holes.


    Heliocentrism carries a danger of being seen as a geometrically-ideal solar configuration to which other Solar System must necessarily conform. Relatively defaltes that.


    For that matter, his speculation is also applicable to (another common, cosmic possibility, to which our own system is, again, an unusual rarity) systems where the only identifiable life exists on the satellites of gas giants. To a lunar organism making this cosmic inquiry on the moon of a Gas Giant, the discovery of Heliocentrism – which is key to a planetary organism – becomes a less significant scientific advancement than Geocentrism to a lunar organism, especially considering that a primary energy source for such a satellite would be volcanism, fueled by the shifting tidal forces of the parent gas giant's colossal gravitational force, not the Sun. Geocentrism is the Heliocentrism of Moonlings.


    Given attempts to measure the relative sizes and energetic-importance of neutron stars, gas giants, brown dwars, and supermassive black holes to the possible life-supporting planetoids which orbit around them, Copernican Heliocentrism comes up sort of short.

    Interesting point, that "the size it appears to be" may not have meant: that the Apparent Size or Apparent Magnitude of the star to an observer on Earth is equivalent to an objective measurement of that star's actual Size or total Luminosity; and may have meant something more like: that the non-Platonic, non-Aristotelian-influenced observations of pre-Socratics were correct; that the Sun is a massive object, in the same category of objects as stars, which are distant Suns, and that the Moon is something more closely related to the Earth, like the spheres we imagine accompany those distant Suns ... or something like that.


    I agree that the rhetorical function of his mentioning the sizes of the appearances of the Sun and the Moon was to refute the Platonic hypothesis that they were deities.


    The prevalent interpretation that Epicurus was arguing that the Apparent Size of the Sun is equivalent to an objective measurement of its actual Size is really an Aristotelian idea: 'the Sun is (duh) obviously smaller than the Earth, and (duh) revolves around the Earth, because (duh) look up, stupid'. It would be uncharacteristic and inconsistent of Epicurus to support this, especially when he posits the explicit existence of exoplanets. That, and also, he generally supported the idea that these physical relationships are obvious to all seeing humans, and not simply learned mathematicians, so he wasn't submitting a mathematical figure (big or small) in the first place. The point is somewhat moot.


    There's something else I thought that makes this criticism more meaningless:


    Suppose another solar narrative like our own, except, allow for the possibility that instead of G-type main-sequence star (our white-yellow Sun), "our Sun" is a neutron star only 20 km in diameter. It would appear to be incredibly small in the sky; it would actually be incredibly small, at that. Unexpectedly small (even to 21st-century cosmologists).


    In a parallel timeline, that society would not have accurately measured the diameter of their parent star until their 21st-century. However, both that society, and our own would have functionally measured the comparative size of the star since antiquity


    Epicurus' observation is still true when taken to mean that all of these objects are what they appear to be, compared to tall trees, massive monuments, and huge mountains: immeasurably massive and immeasurably distant on cosmic scales. Thus, they are "about the size they appear to be", or, in other words "immeasurably large".


    Whether one's planet's parent star is a G-type main-sequence 400x as massive as the Earth's Moon (and almost exactly 400x as distant), or whether it's a neutron star barely one-third of the size of Rhode Island, the human ethical condition is unchanged. Furthermore, excessive speculation about these measurements without the necessary scientific tools will inevitably lead to superstition and mysticism, so are to be avoided.

    Thinking out loud...


    While Epicurus sailed the Aegean, he would have seen how the Sun and the Moon maintain their size, no matter where they are located in the sky, nor in which direction they are moving; whereas, even the tallest mountains of Greece shrink in the distance as we sail away from them at a moderate pace, so the Sun and the Moon must be immeasurably larger by comparison than a mountain.


    If some of the light of the Sun can still be seen when the Moon is in front of it, then the Sun must be larger than the Moon, and must be removed from the Moon by a distance greater than its own diameter (already defined as being "immeasurable large by comparison"), so the space between the Sun and the Moon must be at least as immeasurably large as the diameter of the Sun.


    For a distant object to appear larger than a nearer object, it must at least slightly larger; for a severely distant object to appear larger than a significantly nearer object, it must be much larger than the closer object. The Sun is removed from the Moon by an immeasurably-large-by-comparison amount of space, so the Sun could be immeasurably larger by comparison than the Moon.


    I suppose I'm postulating then Epicurus may have had more nuanced opinions about the celestial spheres than we have documented. Simple knowledge of the eclipses should seem to have demonstrated that the Sun is, at least, demonstrably larger than the Moon, if not incredibly larger. Surely, Epicurus saw that the moon seems larger than distant mountains, which are obviously immense.

    The morning of August 15th 309 BCE, while Epicurus was teaching his first pupils at Lampsacus, a total Solar Eclipse darkened his sky. No doubt, Epicurus would have spent time addressing this phenomena with his students.


    Anyone who witnessed this event could have made the following observations:


    1. Parts of the Sun are still visible even when the Moon slides in front of it, so the Sun must be bigger than the moon no matter where it is.

    2. The body of the Sun goes behind the Moon, so the Sun and the Moon must occupy different regions of space, the Sun being further away.

    3. The body of the Moon is not damaged, so the Sun's distance behind the moon is at least greater than the size of its own diameter.


    Given these observations which I am certain Epicurus would have made, I'm curious why he suggested that both celestial objects are about the same size. Do we have any documentation of his estimation of the size of comets?


    __________________________________________________



    ASTRONOMICAL EVENTS DURING THE TIME OF EPICURUS


    COMETS


    Epicurus would have witnessed several comets throughout his lifetime. The only one I confirm is Halley's Comet which he would have seen in above the hills of Colophon with his Democritean teacher Nausiphanes in October of 316 BCE.


    SOLAR ECLIPSES


    Year

    Date

    Type

    Age

    Location

    View

    337 BCE

    03/01

    Partial

    4

    Samos

    poor

    336 BCE

    07/14

    Total

    5

    Samos

    poor

    335 BCE

    07/04

    Total

    6

    Samos

    good

    334 BCE

    12/17

    Partial

    7

    Samos

    poor







    326 BCE

    07/24

    Partial

    15

    Samos

    good

    325 BCE

    12/08

    Hybrid

    16

    Samos

    poor







    323 BCE

    05/23

    Annular

    18

    Athens

    excellent

    322 BCE

    10/07

    Partial

    19

    Athens

    average







    321 BCE

    09/26

    Annular

    20

    Colophon

    poor







    309 BCE

    08/15

    Total

    32

    Lampsacus

    excellent

    308 BCE

    12/29

    Partial

    33

    Lampsacus

    average







    306 BCE

    06/14

    Annular

    35

    Athens

    average

    305 BCE

    06/03

    Annular

    36

    Athens

    poor

    302 BCE

    04/02

    Total

    39

    Athens

    average

    296 BCE

    05/24

    Annular

    45

    Athens

    average

    295 BCE

    05/13

    Hybrid

    46

    Athens

    average

    295 BCE

    11/07

    Annular

    46

    Athens

    poor

    294 BCE

    10/27

    Partial

    47

    Athens

    poor

    293 BCE

    03/24

    Partial

    48

    Athens

    poor

    285 BCE

    10/18

    Annular

    56

    Athens

    poor

    283 BCE

    04/02

    Total

    58

    Athens

    poor

    282 BCE

    08/16

    Partial

    59

    Athens

    poor

    281 BCE

    08/06

    Total

    60

    Athens

    good

    278 BCE

    06/04

    Annular

    63

    Athens

    poor

    274 BCE

    03/24

    Hybrid

    67

    Athens

    average

    270 BCE

    01/09

    Total

    69

    Athens

    poor

    It is an incredibly unique and rare coincidence that Earth's ONLY star, and Earth's ONLY satellite appear to be the SAME SIZE to Earthlings. We have not seen this mathematical accident replicated on any of the thousands of exoplanets we have discovered.


    Interestingly, NASA has a database of all Solar and Lunar eclipses. [https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEcat5/SE-0399--0300.html]


    Throughout Epicurus' lifetime (341 - 270 BCE) , there only seems to have been a single Total Solar Eclipse (between the years 320 BCE and 301 BCE.) that would have placed both Lampsacus and Athens directly in the Moon's umbra.


    I'm going to do more research to flesh this out, but we should be able to accurately define every solar eclipse, lunar eclipse, and comet (at least the ones that are still around) that Epicurus would have directly witnessed in ancient Greece.


    It could be possible Epicurus happened to have lived in a time period where Total Eclipses over Athens were rare, and, thus, an unreliable phenomena to drawn conclusions from due to its rarity, so, perhaps it wasn't of great interest.


    Witnessing [Distant Object I of Size A] seamlessly slide behind [Distant Object II of Size A] begs a few geometric questions about the objects' spatial relationship.



    The figure's baldness is interesting, and also severely narrows our search.


    I only know of several Greek figures that are depicted as balding.

    Hippocrates:



    Archimedes:



    Xenocrates:



    There appear to be ten bald, or balding men in the School of Athens. Three of whom are Socrates, Plato, and Diogenes, so that leaves seven unidentified bald men:


    a. Screen Shot 2021-05-24 at 5.06.41 PM.png


    b. Screen Shot 2021-05-24 at 5.07.56 PM.png


    c. Screen Shot 2021-05-24 at 5.08.00 PM.png


    d. Screen Shot 2021-05-24 at 5.06.29 PM.png


    e. Screen Shot 2021-05-24 at 5.06.13 PM.png


    f. Screen Shot 2021-05-24 at 5.06.25 PM.png


    g. Screen Shot 2021-05-24 at 5.06.18 PM.png


    Nothing jumps out at me. I think though, that we can cross-reference the bald and balding figures, because there are significantly fewer of them, both in the painting, and in the history of philosophers, who generally seem to sport a shaggy hairstyle.

    Plus, miscommunication between "someone being honored" versus "someone being derided" would not have been acceptable. Raphael would have made obvious visual choices that would not have confused his audience.


    Suspicious that we are so confused at something that would have been obvious.


    Perhaps, so obvious that no one cared to write anything down about it.

    I think Julius fits right in.


    He named himself for Julius Caesar, so between him being the Pope while this was painted, and him being an admirer of Imperial Rome, adorning him with Oak Leaves, placing a Cherub next to him, and having him carrying a book along with Plato, Aristotle, Parmenides, and Heraclitus seems to me to expression of respect or admiration, not derision.


    Big picture, I'd be surprised if Julius II weren't in this. He would have been jazzed to have been included amongst the ancient philosophers whom he admired, and Raphael would have had motivation to patronize the Pope by including him among the greats.

    Visually, placing figures in close proximity is an easy way to demonstrate familiar or intimacy, the prime example of this being the famous teacher-student relationship between Plato and Aristotle, which is the first image to which the eye is drawn.


    If this trend were consistent, and Raphael had an understanding of Epicurus' biography, then we'd expect him to be placed nearest to Democritus, followed by Aristotle (I doubt that either Praxiphanes or Nausiphanes would have made the final cut).


    He may also have placed him near Pyrrho, ONLY because multiple sources mention Epicurus as having admired or been fascinated by Pyrrho and his Eastern journey, even if he completely disagreed within his findings. I think this is more of a stretch.


    If proximity isn't indicating relational intimacy, it may be expressing ideological tension and conflict, in which case, Epicurus should be placed near Plato, and painted in a critical, dismissive, or challenging position, which we do observe in the figure in orange to the left. Scholarship online seems to place Heraclitus and Parmenides in close proximity downstage of Plato and Aristotle, so that further indicates an expression of tension. Though, I'm not convinced of those identities. Still, placement near Plato is appropriate.

    Divine Revelation within this context matches Plato's proposition that "learning" is actually an immortal soul's recollection of the Divine Truth which the soul knew prior to being born, but simply forgot after experiencing birth and associating with a human body.


    To Augustinians (this might be an over-generalization, as I'm just skimming the schools), Truth is to be remembered through revelation; to Thomists, Truth is to be discovered through observation.


    [edit:] I was looking for a specific term, and I just found it: ANAMNESIS . Christian theologians gobbled up Plato's theory of anamnesis and injected it into their belief system as the faithful remembrance of Christ. The Wikipedia entries:


    ANAMNESIS (PHILOSOPHY)


    "In philosophy, anamnesis (/ˌænæmˈniːsɪs/; Ancient Greek: ἀνάμνησις) is a concept in Plato's epistemological and psychological theory that he develops in his dialogues Meno and Phaedo and alludes to in his Phaedrus. The idea is that humans possess innate knowledge (perhaps acquired before birth) and that learning consists of rediscovering that knowledge from within. Terms that have been used to characterize this concept include Doctrine of Recollection and Doctrine of Reminiscence."



    ANAMNESIS (CHRISTIANITY)


    "Anamnesis (from the Attic Greek word ἀνάμνησις meaning "reminiscence" or "memorial sacrifice"),[1] in Christianity, is a liturgical statement in which the Church refers to the memorial character of the Eucharist or to the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. It has its origin in Jesus' words at the Last Supper, "Do this in memory of me" (Greek: "τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν", (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24–25). In a wider sense, anamnesis is a key concept in the liturgical theology: in worship the faithful recall God's saving deeds.[2] This memorial aspect is not simply a passive process but one by which the Christian can actually enter into the Paschal mystery.[3]"

    I like the idea that it is Grape leaves.



    Is this figure is an Epicurean, something indicating wine would be appropriate.


    It could be Oak as well, signifying the Father God, and the source of Wisdom, thus, reinforcing the divine nature of whatever truth the writer is inscribing, helped by a cherub.



    I am surprised that Raphael painted an author, receiving inspiration from a cherub, and chose NOT to identify him as a poet (with Laurel leaves). That may also have been a missed opportunity, and not the best artistic choice that could have been employed.


    Or it could be ambivalent. Rather than specifically identifying a "poet", or "defender or Rome", or "brave soldier", it may just indicate "a Roman to the 16th-century mind".

    The subject of Divine Revelation is a good way to distinguish the medieval Christian theologies.


    (I mis-wrote above: Scholasticism is also Aristotle-influenced)


    I think the main thing is the Scholastics and Thomists believed that God provided humanity with practical reason that could be applied to understand God better by studying Nature. Thomas Aquinas' many portraits of him holding animals like Bob Ross expresses this.


    So, we can see the influence of Aristotle over Plato, and the rejection of ideas like "knowledge without experience" or "truth without understanding".