G. E. R. Lloyd

G. E. R. Lloyd

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Sir Geoffrey Ernest Richard Lloyd (born 25 January 1933) is a historian of Ancient Science and Medicine at the University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

. He is the Senior Scholar in Residence at the Needham Research Institute
Needham Research Institute
The Needham Research Institute or NRI, located on the grounds of the Robinson College, in Cambridge, England, is a center for research into the history of science, technology and medicine in East Asia. It is part of the University of Cambridge...

 in Cambridge, England.

Early life

Lloyd was raised in London and Wales. His father, a Welsh physician, specialized in tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

. After a nomadic early education in six different schools, he obtained a scholarship to Charterhouse
Charterhouse School
Charterhouse School, originally The Hospital of King James and Thomas Sutton in Charterhouse, or more simply Charterhouse or House, is an English collegiate independent boarding school situated at Godalming in Surrey.Founded by Thomas Sutton in London in 1611 on the site of the old Carthusian...

, where, despite an indifferent academic culture, he excelled in mathematics, and learned Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 from Wilfrid Noyce
Wilfrid Noyce
Cuthbert Wilfrid Francis Noyce was an English mountaineer and author...

. The curriculum was biased to classics, which he was advised, misleadingly in his later view, to pursue. On obtaining another scholarship to King's College
King's College, Cambridge
King's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. The college's full name is "The King's College of our Lady and Saint Nicholas in Cambridge", but it is usually referred to simply as "King's" within the University....

, Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia about north of London. Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the...

 he came under the influence of the pre-Socratics specialist John Raven
John Raven
John Earle Raven , who published as J. E. Raven, was an English classical scholar, notable for his work on presocratic philosophy, and amateur botanist.-Early life and education:...

. He spent a year in Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 (1954-1955) where, apart from learning modern Greek
Modern Greek
Modern Greek refers to the varieties of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The beginning of the "modern" period of the language is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic...

, he also mastered the bouzouki
The bouzouki , is a musical instrument with Greek origin in the lute family. A mainstay of modern Greek music, the front of the body is flat and is usually heavily inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The instrument is played with a plectrum and has a sharp metallic sound, reminiscent of a mandolin but...



A keen interest in anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 informed his reading of ancient Greek philosophy, and his doctoral studies, conducted under the supervision of Geoffrey Kirk
Geoffrey Kirk
Geoffrey Stephen Kirk DSC, FBA was a British classical scholar, known for his books on Ancient Greek literature and mythology.-Life:...

, focused on patterns of Polarity and Analogy
Analogy is a cognitive process of transferring information or meaning from a particular subject to another particular subject , and a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process...

 in Greek thought, a thesis which, revised, was eventually published in 1966.

He was called up for National Service
National service
National service is a common name for mandatory government service programmes . The term became common British usage during and for some years following the Second World War. Many young people spent one or more years in such programmes...

 in 1958 and was posted to Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 after the EOKA
EOKA was an anticolonial, antiimperialist nationalist organisation with the ultimate goal of "The liberation of Cyprus from the British yoke". Although not stated in its initial declaration of existence which was printed and distributed on the 1st of April 1955, EOKA also had a target of achieving...


On his return to Cambridge in 1960, a chance conversation with Edmund Leach
Edmund Leach
Sir Edmund Ronald Leach was a British social anthropologist of whom it has been said:"It is no exaggeration to say that in sheer versatility, originality, and range of writing he was and still is difficult to match among the anthropologists of the English speaking world".-Personal and academic...

 stimulated him to read deeply in the emerging approach of structural anthropology
Structural anthropology
Structural anthropology is based on Claude Lévi-Strauss' idea that people think about the world in terms of binary opposites—such as high and low, inside and outside, person and animal, life and death—and that every culture can be understood in terms of these opposites...

  being formulated by Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer, the "father of modern anthropology"....

. In 1965, thanks to the support of Moses Finley, he was appointed to an assistant lectureship. A recurring element of his approach was the consideration of how political discourse influenced the forms of scientific discourse and demonstration in Ancient Greece.

After a visit to lecture in China in 1987, Lloyd turned to the study of Classical Chinese
Classical Chinese
Classical Chinese or Literary Chinese is a traditional style of written Chinese based on the grammar and vocabulary of ancient Chinese, making it different from any modern spoken form of Chinese...

. This has added a broad comparative scope to his more recent work, which, following in the wake of Joseph Needham
Joseph Needham
Noel Joseph Terence Montgomery Needham, CH, FRS, FBA , also known as Li Yuese , was a British scientist, historian and sinologist known for his scientific research and writing on the history of Chinese science. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1941, and as a fellow of the British...

's pioneering studies, analyses how the different political cultures of ancient China and Greece influenced the different forms of scientific discourse in those cultures.

In 1989 he was appointed Master of Darwin College
Darwin College, Cambridge
Darwin College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge.Founded in 1964, Darwin was Cambridge University's first graduate-only college, and also the first to admit both men and women. The college is named after the family of one of the university's most famous graduates, Charles Darwin...

, where he remains as an Honorary Fellow. Presently he spends a part of each year in his other home in Spain, where much of his writing is now done.

Recognitions and awards

Professor Lloyd was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1983 and received the George Sarton Medal
George Sarton Medal
The George Sarton Medal is the most prestigious award given by the History of Science Society. It has been awarded annually since 1955. It is awarded to an historian of science from the international community who became distinguished for "a lifetime of scholarly achievement" in the field...

 of the History of Science Society
History of Science Society
The History of Science Society is the primary professional society for the academic study of the history of science.It was founded in 1924 by George Sarton and Lawrence Joseph Henderson, primarily to support the publication of Isis, a journal of the history of science Sarton had started in 1912....

 in 1987. He was elected to Honorary Foreign Membership of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...

 in 1995, to the International Academy for the History of Science in 1997, the year in which he was knighted for 'services to the history of thought'.


  • 1966. Polarity and Analogy: Two Types of Argumentation in Early Greek Thought. Cambridge Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr., ISBN 0-521-05578-4; reprint Bristol Classical Press, 1922. ISBN 0-87220-140-6.
  • 1968. Aristotle: The Growth and Structure of his Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr., ISBN 0-521-09456-9.
  • 1970. Early Greek Science: Thales to Aristotle. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-00583-6.
  • 1973. Greek Science after Aristotle. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1973. ISBN 0-393-00780-4.
  • 1978. Aristotle on Mind and the Senses (Cambridge Classical Studies). Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr. ISBN 0-521-21669-9.
  • 1978. with J. Chadwick. Hippocratic Writings (Penguin Classics). Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-044451-3.
  • 1979. Magic Reason and Experience: Studies in the Origin and Development of Greek Science. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr. ISBN 0-521-29641-2.
  • 1983. Science, Folklore and Ideology. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr. ISBN 0-521-27307-2.
  • 1987. The Revolutions of Wisdom: Studies in the Claims and Practice of Ancient Greek Science (Sather Classical Lectures, 52). Berkeley: Univ. of California Pr., ISBN 0-520-06742-8.
  • 1990. Demystifying Mentalities. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr. ISBN 0-521-36680-1.
  • 1991. Methods and Problems in Greek Science. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr. ISBN 0-521-39762-6.
  • 1996. Adversaries and Authorities: Investigations into ancient Greek and Chinese Science. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr. ISBN 0-521-55695-3.
  • 1996. Aristotelian Explorations. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr. ISBN 0-521-55619-8.
  • 2002. The Ambitions of Curiosity: Understanding the World in Ancient Greece and China. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr. ISBN 0-521-81542-8.
  • 2002. with Nathan Sivin. The Way and the Word: Science and Medicine in Early China and Greece. New Haven: Yale Univ. Pr. ISBN 0-300-10160-0.
  • 2003. In the Grip of Disease: Studies in the Greek Imagination. New York: Oxford Univ. Pr. ISBN 0-19-927587-4.
  • 2004. Ancient Worlds, Modern Reflections: Philosophical Perspectives on Greek and Chinese Science and Culture. New York: Oxford Univ. Pr. ISBN 0-19-928870-4.
  • 2005. The Delusions of Invulnerability: Wisdom and Morality in Ancient Greece, China and Today. London: Duckworth. ISBN 0-7156-3386-4.
  • 2006. Principles And Practices in Ancient Greek And Chinese Science (Variorum Collected Studies Series). Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 0-86078-993-4.
  • 2007. Cognitive Variations: Reflections on the Unity and Diversity of the Human Mind. New York: Oxford Univ, Pr. ISBN 0-19921-461-1.
  • 2009. Disciplines in the Making, Oxford University Press, pp. viii + 215. ISBN 978-0-19-956787-4.

External links