In the modern West, we take for granted that what we call the "natural world" confronts us all and always has but we are wrong. In reality, nature is a human construct. Before Nature is an exploration of that almost unimaginable time when there was no such thing as "nature" no word, reference, or sense for it. Long before the concept of nature formed over the long history of European philosophy and science, our ancestors in ancient Assyria and Babylonia developed the cuneiform script, the earliest system of writing used for documenting and observing the world in a way not wholly dissimilar to our modern science With Before Nature, Francesca Rochberg explores that Assyro-Babylonian knowledge tradition and shows how it relates to the history of science, despite not being focused around a conscious category of nature. From a modern, Western perspective, a world not conceived somehow within the framework of physical nature is difficult if not impossible to imagine. Yet, as Rochberg lays out, ancient Assyro-Babylonian investigations of regularity and irregularity, norms and anomalies clearly established an axis of knowledge between the knower and an intelligible, ordered world.
The University of Chicago Press,
Includes bibliographical references and index.