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1

I am extremely interested in the idea that there was a period in time when, at least in the west, people looked upon the ancients (Romans/Greeks) as possessors of wisdom that had been lost. In the light of this question its worth looking at the first volume of Richard Feynmans Lectures on Physics which contains the following quote: If, in some cataclysm,...


5

Others have covered Fermat's note specifically, so I'll respond to this sub-question: I am extremely interested in the idea that there was a period in time when, at least in the west, people looked upon the ancients (Romans/Greeks) as possessors of wisdom that had been lost. After the fall of the Roman empire (around 476 AD - exact opinions vary at what ...


10

Other answers are good but I would like to add a bit of context. The OP states that it should have been clear by 1600 that some advance had been made since Roman times. However, the idea that by then contemporary sciences and arts had surpassed old ones was new and very controversial. The querelle des Anciens et des Modernes was a famous and heated literary ...


4

I am sure that Fermat was serious. Sciences, as we know them, especially mathematics, astronomy and physics were invented in Ancient Greece and then reached a high level of development in the Hellenistic states. After the collapse of the Roman empire, this knowledge was practically forgotten, and there was almost no development. This was a true Dark Age, at ...


42

There is a difference between abstract knowledge and "inventions". In the 17th century it was still widely believed that the ancient Greeks had discovered and formulated pretty much the sum total of abstract knowledge. Fermat put this in question. The authentic quote from Fermat (in French and in English translation) can be found here: Perhaps, posterity ...


1

In fact, Poland had at least one internal religious war, namely, the Khmelnytsky Uprising in 1648–1657, right at the end of the 30 year war in Central Europe. Religion, ethnicity, and economics factored into this discontent. While the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth remained a union of nations, a sizable population of Orthodox Ruthenians were ignored. ...


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