Re: Flat Earth?

From: Jim Armstrong <>
Date: Tue Nov 22 2005 - 22:19:20 EST

I suppose this is self-evident (and this previous post sort of touches
on it), but it is unlikely that there was a single view in the period,
or in any period. It does not take a great mind for a sailor to have
some sense that there is a curvature of large bodies of water. Sailors
over any significant distance would probably take it for granted that
there was some curvature. Whether they would extrapolate that to an
entire spherical earth is an uncertainty. That's a big step.
On the other hand, there would undoubtedly be others (landlubbers) who
might adhere to a flat land mass. Some particularly thoughtful
landlubbers might talk to sailors and have their flat earth surmises
nuanced by the sailors observations. It's still quite a step to infer a
spherical earth.
My only point here is that at any given time, there was probably no
single view, and to seek one to ascribe to the period is problematical.
Or so it seemeth to me. JimA wrote:

>> > A while back, someone recommended the book 'Inventing the Flat Earth"
>> > by Jeffrey Burton Russell. Russell seeks to show that the commonly
>> > held notion that the "medievals" believed in a flat Earth is a
>> > historical invention of the 19th and 20th century. I found the book
>> > extremely intriguing but must remain skeptical - his arguments are
>> > very convincing but it is hard for me to accept that his "Flat Error"
>> > (as he calls it) has been willingly propagated for so long without
>> > anyone crying foul. If true, this must rank as one of the most
>> > outrageous "historical hoaxes" of the last 200 years - willfully
>> > permitted to persist by the academia! Can anyone recommend other
>> > references on this topic?
>> >
> Actually, it would not surprise me particularly. What better pretext
> to play upon than our own pride and arrogance. You see....., well,
> perhaps they were not stupid, but we.... well, we, of course,
> know far more.
> If I remotely recall (IIRR), the Greeks had measured the circumference
> of the earth by a simple sundial. Perhaps the queen of Spain thought
> the earth was flat, but as I understand it, many sailors were already
> aware
> that the earth was _at least_ curved. If they were actually afraid,
> it was more
> likely because they were in uncharted waters. That would be quite a
> reasonable
> fear for any normal human being.
Received on Tue Nov 22 22:20:53 2005

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