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Cosmology and Astronomy

  1. Q: What is the role of contraries (opposites) in pre-Socratic cosmology?

A: Early Greek natural scientists had various perplexing questions to grapple with. These included: How did things begin, what are they made of and how did the dispositions of the elements (including the celestial bodies) come to exist as we now perceive them? Three assumptions were made in order to attempt an explanation. These assumptions were: that the world began from a primary unity, that the first things formed from that unity were pairs of opposites and that these opposites interacted in different degrees to form the makeup of all things. Some examples of these opposites and the differing interpretation various philosophers used include Anaximander's indefinite which he says splits into pairs. Anaximenes had air as his elemental stuff, and all formed because of stratification due to differing densities and rarities of the air. Lastly, Heraclitas believed love and strife to be the prime motivators of dissociation in the universe.

The Babylonians and The Mayans : An archeoastonomical overview of two major cultures

Ever since human life evolved, the night sky has been one of the biggest enigmas we have encountered. We have archaeological proof of ancient cultures' interest in astronomy, from the megalithic structures of Britain to Babylonian clay tablets and Mayan parchments. These early astronomers did more than simply gaze at the heavens, starstruck; they calculated, coded, compiled and observed all of the available phenomena. The attempt to make sense of what was happening above is a worldwide practice, and has been since time immemorial. The way to this knowledge was fraught with difficulty, having such matters as retrograde motion to explain.

This essay will provide a brief overview of two ancient astronomical cultures; the Babylonian and the Mayan. Both were enormous influences on later thought, and scientific progress owes much to these two groups. Once we are acquainted with their respective views on the subject, we will explore the connections between the two and attempt to understand how the differences that exist may have come about. Our first subject will be the Babylonian culture.

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