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It has been much disputed to what extent thinkers in Greek and Roman antiquity adhered to ideas of evolution and progress in human affairs. Did they lack any conception of process in time, or did they anticipate Darwinian and Lamarckian hypotheses?
The Origins of Civilization in Greek and Roman Thought, first published in1986, comprehensively examines this issue. Beginning with creation myths – Mother Earth and Pandora, the anti-progressive ideas of the Golden Age, and the cyclical theories of Orphism – Professor Blundell goes on to explore the origins of scientific speculation among the Pre-Socratics, its development into the teleological science of Aristotle, and the advent of the progressivist views of the Stoics. Attention is also given to the ‘primitivist’ debate, involving ideas about the noble savage and reflections of such speculation in poetry, and finally the relationship between nature and culture in ancient thought is investigated.
Preface Part I: The Origins of the Human Race 1. Mythological explanations 2. The theories of the Presocratic philosophers 3. Later theories 4. Evolution and the survival of the fittest Part II: Patterns of Cultural History 5. Values and Cycles 6. Golden Age Theories 7. Theories of progress 8. Hard primitivism and the noble savage; Conclusion; Select Bibliography; Index
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