N° 495
Science Writing and Its Settings: Some Ancient Greek Modes
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This paper presents six cases in ancient Greek cultures of knowledge, which make it possible to posit a connection between certain modes of presentation and institutional context. Among the texts looked at are the Hippocratic Epidemics, Aristotelian discourse, Hellenistic mechanics, and theoretical mathematics. While historical reconstruction of the institutional contexts involved is impossible, each of the cases leaves room for observations concerning an interdependence of knowledge-presentation and ‘setting’, understood as standard social context of reception. The paper describes resulting modes (collective, epideictic, school mode, how-to mode, analytical, and esoteric modes) as responding to and possibly emerging from certain contexts, but also as registers that later became per se possible choices for science writers, each catering to specific functions within the transmission and presentation of knowledge. With respect to Greek science, it remains an open question, whether and how one can separate a style of reasoning from a mode of presentation, that is, separate epistemic from rhetorical structures.