This week’s Words Crush Wednesday quote is also from The Scientific Revolution by Steven Shapin. BTW, “natural philosophers” was the sixteenth and seventeenth century name for what we would now call “scientists,” a term not coined until either the late 19th or the early 20th century.
Many scholars, including some of the more prominent natural philosophers of the early modern period, accepted as a matter of course that the ancients had better knowledge, and more potent technology, than that possessed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries or than any that modern human beings could have. The ruins of still-unsurpassed Greek and Roman engineering works appeared to strongly support that idea.
And in the nineteenth century, this kind of thinking would lead to all sorts of crazy fairy stories about Atlantis, presumably concocted by people who had never actually read either of Plato’s dialogues on the subject.