The Contributions Of Pragmatism In The Hellenistic Period

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It was only after Alexander’s conquest of the Greek homeland that classical ideas were put under pressure by a changing political climate and social disruption, eventually causing the expanding Greek world to turn to pragmatism and realism. The ensuing Hellenistic period saw a move towards practical applications of scientific knowledge and art styles reflecting the more complex emotions familiar to Hellenistic Greeks. However, despite changing attitudes, the ingenuity and technical proficiency of Greek individuals was generally undiminished. In mathematics, for example, Euclid (365-300 BCE) wrote 13 groundbreaking books on geometry that continued to be used until the late 19th century and “virtually invented classical (Euclidean) geometry as we know it” (Mastin, pars. 3). Archimedes, a 3rd-century BCE mathematician from Syracuse, made significant practical advances in the field of physics, inventing the compound pulley and the Archimedean screw; he famously stated, “give me a fulcrum, and I’ll shift the Earth,” affirming his faith in applied science (Cary, 349). Early biologists and naturalists of the Hellenistic period increasingly sought applications in medicine, which vastly improved medical care (Cary, 351). Astronomy also saw advances in practical knowledge from figures such as Eratosthenes, who calculated the circumference of the Earth, and Hipparchus, who determined the length of the moon’s orbit to within one second (Violatti (a), pars. 9). Architecture, once held up
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