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Philosophy And Science In The Elder Pliny's Naturalis Historia

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the natures, functions and mutual relationships of philosophy and science in Pliny, and shows that such an analysis offers a more accurate understanding not only of specific passages, but also of some of the general motivations underpinning his narrative. The author compares the analysis with the interpretations given by commentators on specific passages, as well as with their general attitude towards Pliny. The chapter examines Pliny's accounts within the cultural milieu of his day, and identifies the sources which influenced his treatment of philosophical and scientific subjects. Pliny engaged both in physics and ethics, and this unexpected pattern is probably one of the main reasons why he was largely and repeatedly criticized. However, paradoxically, it seems that the resulting uniqueness of the Naturalis Historia was such as to make it immune to both the force of objections and the threats of time.

Keywords: Elder Pliny; Naturalis Historia; philosophy; science



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