A CELESTIAL PERSPECTIVE
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF A POINT OF VIEW
A. The mythic point of view:
Man has always depended on his understanding of nature for his survival. Pre-historic and pre-literate people developed impressive technologies to cope with the problems of living. Be it hunting or agriculture (8000 BCE or earlier) life required an extensive knowledge of weather and the sky, plants, weather and animals. While our ancestors knew how to do things, they did not know how nature worked; in other words, they had know-how but not a consistent framework of theoretical knowledge, they did not know why things happened. Without written records, knowledge was transmitted orally. Even though they did evolve explanations (myths), what is lacking in those explanations is the notion of cause and effect the way we understand it.
Gods, spirits and invisible powers are ever-present. While they control nature, they in turn can be controlled by magic. The ideas of cause and beginning are often confused. Moreover, the conceptual framework of myth allows acceptance of what to us are mutually exclusive explanations because myths teach and reinforce the beliefs, values and attitudes of a society (not scientific accuracy) and, over time, myths change and evolve to meet the changing needs of that society.
With the rise of writing, especially alphabetic writing (Greece 800 BCE), the stories (myths) are codified, stored. With the existence of hard copies, the myths can be compared and criticized. This allows the emergence of truth based on reasoning. This storage of information also allows for lists and without lists one cannot discover patterns hidden in the lists.
While many other cultures will achieve a tremendous knowledge of the skies, the western tradition is derived from Egyptian and Mid-Eastern (Mesopotamian) achievements. What are the main astronomical achievements of these mythic peoples? Link to Egyptian and Mesopotamian achievements