Re: Information & Power /Alexandria library

Michael S. Lorrey (
Tue, 04 May 1999 17:16:49 -0400

Anders Sandberg wrote:

> "Michael S. Lorrey" <> writes:
> > Destruction of the library probably helped the development of
> >scientific technological culture, because the loss of its knowledge,
> >right or wrong, inspired generations of men to conduct original
> >research using the scientific method to 'recover' that 'lost'
> >knowledge.
> Huh? I don't see much evidence for this. Among the humanities it has
> indeed caused much research, trying to piece together the *original*
> Illiad or _The State_, but among the natural sciences there was never
> the same recover-mentality, not even during the renaissance.

On the contrary, the whole alchemy/chemistry area developed out of 'recovering' the secrets of the ancient philosphers. Middle age europe lost the secret of roman concrete, and european kings all wanted to know how to build structures like the pyramids using the magical methods that myth purported they were built with.

Moreover, the scarce information left about the lost 'Atlantis' inspired Columbus in his quest for the new world. If there had been more substantial supporting 'evidence' for the Ptolemaic solar system, Copernicus and Galileo might have been supressed even more violently than they were. Leaving more accurate maps of the egyptian area would have caused the death of egyptology, because the antiquities would have been pillaged all the more sooner before controls were set in place.

Mike Lorrey

> >As a result we have reached ever higher levels of
> >acheivement. I think that if the library had remained, we would have
> >developed a system which prized respect for the old knowledge over the
> >potential of new knowledge.
> That is of course a danger. And I think we have seen the effects in
> some parts of the humanities :-)

The humanities were left with the most information, and have resulted in the above. The hard sciences were starved of data and look what resulted.