Department of Classics

DEPARTMENT OF

Classics

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Professor Lehoux Presents Papers at International Conferences

Professor Daryn Lehoux was invited to speak at two international conferences in July 2017: (i) the International Conference at Goethe Universität, Frankfurt:
"Weak Knowledge: Forms, Functions, and Dynamics"
 and (ii) the Fourth International Workshop on Epistemology and Astronomy at the Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro.

On Certain Uncertainties in Ancient Astrology    
In his monumental synthesis of ancient astrology, the Anthology, Vettius Valens introduces a number of case studies as empirical evidence for the astrological theories, forces, and relationships at play in the universe. He also lambastes rival practitioners who, he says, are bringing the discipline of astrology into disrepute by providing incorrect predictions. This paper aims to unpack the epistemology that underlies Valens’ sophisticated text, in order to understand how Valens saw and characterized the foundations of his own knowledge, a disciplinary knowledge of the cosmos that in itself permitted an accurate (he thought) foreknowledge about the fate that awaited individual human beings.

 

Dr. Lehoux also gave a conference presentation at the 25th International Congress of History of Science and Technology in Rio de Janeiro in July as part of its session about "Transmission of Scientific and Technical Knowledge and Techniques across the Ancient Mediterranean World, from local and 'global' perspectives."

Aristotle on the Divine in Nature
In his monumental Generation of Animals, Aristotle struggles openly to understand how bees reproduce. In the end he thinks that the balance of evidence suggests that ‘king’ bees (what we call queens) generate both workers and new kings asexually, and that workers generate drones, again asexually. Drones, alas, generate nothing. In making this case, Aristotle argues that each bee must contain within itself both male and female principles. He compares this mode of generation to that of plants, as well as to that of two kinds of fish, the erythrinus and the channa, which likewise seemed to reproduce asexually. But as he wraps up his discussion of the reproduction of bees and turns next to the sexual generation of wasps and hornets, Aristotle remarks that such a contrast with bees—sexual versus asexual reproduction—should be expected, since, as he puts it, wasps and hornets “contain nothing divine, like bees do.” It is a curious, almost throwaway line, whose import is not elaborated on explicitly. This is particularly striking insofar as appeals to the divine are not something that Aristotle makes often in his works on nature, nor does he make them lightly when he does so. The present paper will examine this particular appeal to the divine in light of Aristotle’s use of the idea elsewhere in his corpus in order to try and tease out what he finds so remarkable about bees, as well as to shed some light on the functions of the divine elsewhere in Aristotle.