Aladdin's Lamp: How Greek Science Came to Europe Through the Islamic World

Aladdin's Lamp: How Greek Science Came to Europe Through the Islamic World

John Freely explains how, as the Dark Ages shrouded Europe, scholars in medieval Baghdad translated the works of these Greek thinkers into Arabic, spreading their ideas throughout the Islamic world from Central Asia to Spain, with many Muslim scientists, most notably Avicenna, Alhazen, and Averroës, adding their own interpretations to the philosophy and science they had inherited.

Freely goes on to show how, beginning in the twelfth century, these texts by Islamic scholars were then translated from Arabic into Latin, sparking the emergence of modern science at the dawn of the Renaissance, which climaxed in the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century.Here is early science in all its glory, from Pythagorean celestial harmony to the sun-centered planetary theory of Copernicus, who, in 1543, aided by the mathematical methods of medieval Arabic astronomers, revived a concept proposed by the Greek astronomer Aristarchus some eighteen centuries before.

When Newton laid the foundations of modern science, building on the work of Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, and others, he said that he was standing on the sholders sic of Giants, referring to his predecessors in ancient Greece and in the Arabic and Latin worlds from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance.Caliph Harun al-Rashid was one of the Muslim rulers who first promoted translating Greek texts into Arabic.

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And for that reason we should always relax the chance of scientific plagiarism when the only evidence is just that the theory was already discovered (we should credit both the ancient and the classical scientists for the discovery), since anything can be discovered independently by anyone at any time. The second line is exactly Euclid equation that needs to be substituted by a prime number, I thought the first line gave nths prime coincidently so I kept solving the first line for all n as possible till I hit a technical wall in the software (damn you overflow error!), I guess my mind was oriented into solving Perfect Numbers using algorithms because Ive always been a computers geek and actually being that is the thing that gave me the hint to discover the equation (6 = 8 2, 28 = 32 4, 496 = 512 16), these numbers are all powers of two which I memorize by heart since they are common in computers. Greek society was interested in Philosophy which created a rich environment for Philosophy development, giving us one of the most famous philosophers of all times, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle (note they all were contemporaries of each other). Directionism is governed by both the time and the place, since its a social phenomenon, Ancient Greek Philosophy, Classical European Music. A poor jobless person like Vincent Van Gogh became one of the most famous artists in history (his brother helped him financially so he dont die of hunger), but most scientists are from Academia and either associated with a king or an institution, and that make sense since (applied) Science is a full-time job that needs space, equipment, and assistants so its no wonder that societys / authoritys interest is a must! They were living in an Islamic Arabic society that cared for science. Al-Ghazali's Incoherence of Philosophers shouldn't be held (solely) responsible for accelerating the decline of Islamic Science, the caliphs that did not stand up for the scientists against the theologians are to blame. "Harun Al-Rashid's Baghdad is the setting for the Thousand Nights and One Night, where the 'Tale of Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp' reflects the marvels of the new science and the amazing inventions and discoveries that were attributed to wizards scientists. As Shaharzad says of the Moor: 'From his earliest youth he had studied sorcery and spells, geomancy and alchemy, astrology, fumigation and enchantment; so that after thirty years of wizardry, he had learnt the existence of a powerful lamp in some unknown place, powerful enough to raise its owner above the kings and powers of the world.'" ----- Ionia: The First Physicists The author in first chapter explains how science canon started in Ionia, well, at least Physics, he only mentions Mesopotamia by saying a scholar here and there went there to learn some math from them (btw, there are recently-discovered Mesopotamian clay tablets that show how a cone volume is very accurately calculated!) but not talking about Mesopotamia itself at all. and water is for most moist things the origin of their nature." " " "Anaximander also wrote on the origin of animal and human life, and Plutarch credits him with believing in a theory of evolution: 'He says moreover that originally man was born from creatures of a diffract species, on the grounds that whereas other creatures quickly find food for themselves, man alone needs a long period of suckling; hence if he had been originally what he is now he could never have survived." "The relative stability of nature was the result of what Heraclitus called the opposite tension, a balance of opposing forces producing equilibrium, and the unity of the cosmos was due to Logos, or Reason, which gives order to the natural world." For every action there is a reaction, Reason as in Laws of Physics. What Socrates was looking for was a teleological explanation, one involving evidence of design in nature, for he believed that everything in the cosmos was directed toward attaining the best possible end." Aristotle too believed in a teleological (that nature has a purpose and an end it is seeking) four elements world, the classical Earth, Water, Fire, and Air: "The natural motion of the terrestrial elements was to their natural place, so that if earth is displaced upward in air and released it will fall straight down, whereas air in water will rise, as does fire (linked to starts and light and rainbows and comets) in air. Thus De Rerum Natura became popular in medieval Europe." "During the early medieval period the attitude of Christian scholars was that the study of science was not necessary, for in order to save one's soul it was enough to believe in God, as Saint Augustine of Hippo wrote in his Enchiridion," and unfortunately this attitude exists among many people around here, that "yeah Science is good, but what is really great and going to improve Humanity is the study of Theology" as if we don't have million theology books already.. "Boethius writings played a substantial role in the transmission to medieval Europe of the basic parts of Aristotle's logic and of elementary arithmetic." The Byzantine Empire at its peak (mid-sixth century) closed the ancient Platonic Academy, ending the last direct link with the classical past that existed for more than nine centuries. The caliph, who was sponsoring translations of ancient Greek science and mathematics into Arabic, thus learned of Leo's accomplishment and invited him to Baghdad. 829-42) kept Leo in Constantinople by appointing him as the head of a new school of philosophy and science, where he had his students copy manuscripts of Archimedes and Euclid." "Al-Mansur was the first caliph to have books translated from foreign languages into Arabic." "Nawbaht was the first court astrologer of al-Mansur, and his examination of the celestial signs led him to advise the caliph to begin the construction of Baghdad on 30 July 762." "Abu Sahl's Nawbaht son and his successor motive was to show that the Abbasid succession was preordained by the stars zodiac signs and God, and that it was now their dynasty's turn to renew knowledge." Abu Sahl also translated books from Persian in the House of Wisdom. Aristotle's Physics was first translated into Arabic during the reign of Harun Al-Rashid, the motivation apparently being its use in theological disputation concerning cosmology." Al-Kindi, a polymath who developed a lot of awesome theories, "his studies of natural science convinced him of the value of rational thought, and as a result he was the first noted philosopher to be attacked by fundamentalist Muslim clerics." "Al-Kindi begins The Theory of The Magic Art/On Stellar Rays by saying that stellar rays are emitted by celestial bodies and influence everything in the universe, mankind included, and that a study of the heavens thus allows astrologers to predict the future." "The program of translation continued until the mid-eleventh century, both in the East and in Muslim Spain. By that time most of the important works of Greek science and philosophy were available in Arabic translations, along with commentaries on these works and original treaties by Islamic scientists that had been produced in the interim. Thus, through their contact with surrounding cultures, scholars writing in Arabic were in a position to take the lead in science and philosophy, absorbing what they had learned from the Greeks and adding to it to begin an Islamic renaissance, whose fruits were eventually passed on to western Europe."

While the information may be overbearing at times and Freely lacks in a certain storytelling quality of making the book as enjoyable as some other works of nonfiction, Aladdins Lamp does provide insight into the turbulent times of the early Middle Ages, when civilizations and countries rose and fell within the blink of an eye, while culture and literature and science was kept at times in secret to be read and enjoyed by future generations.

Buku Aladdin's Lamp ini mengisahkan perjalanan proses pemindahan ilmu sains Greek ke Eropah melalui dunia islam. Buku ini kalau dibaca dengan sub-title nya "How Greek Sciemce Came to Europe through Islamic World" tentu akan membawakan gambaran bahawa pembaca akan dibawa masuk ke dalam satu pengembaraan epik akan perkembangan sejarah sains yg merangkumi fizik, matematik, geografi, perubatan, alchemy, astrology, biologi dll bermula di Miletus, Greek kemudian ke Athens, Iskandariah, Rome, Istanbul, Jumdishapur, Baghdad, Kaherah dan Damsyik, ke Cordoba, Toledo dan seterusnya ke Palermo, ke Oxford, ke Paris akhirnya berkemuncak dgn Revolusi Saintifik pada abad 15 dan 16. Tambahan daripada itu, topik 'sains' yg disentuh penulis pula banyak tertumpu dalam bidang sains fizik khususnya sains pergerakan (motion) yg melibatkan pergerakan bintang2 dan planet2 di angkasa. Pun begitu, ada juga part yg aku suka dalam buku ini antaranya kontroversi Galileo dan institusi gereja. Menuju bab2 terakhir, penulis bercerita tentang pengalaman beliau mengajar subjek sejarah sains kepada pelajar2, penemuan2 baru manuskrip Archimedes dan juga pengembaraan beliau di sempadan Turki-Iraq-Syria.

Although Freelys work showed hints of greatness, specially towards the end, it was nevertheless incapable of making the complete leap.

I. Bill and eventually received a Ph.D. in physics from New York University, followed by a year of post-doctoral study at Oxford in the history of science. In 1960 he went to stanbul to teach physics at the Robert College, now the Boaziçi University, and taught there until 1976.

  • English

  • History

  • Rating: 3.59
  • Pages: 303
  • Publish Date: 2009 by Knopf
  • Isbn10: 030726534X
  • Isbn13: 9780307265340