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History of Islamic Science

Course summary

Semester: Semester 1, 2005 Instructor: Professor Osman Bakar Time: Thursday, 2.00 4.00 pm Venue: Room 1 Course pre-requirements: None Course evaluation: mid-semester examination and a full end of semester paper on any topic pertaining to course materials

Course Synopsis This course offers a comprehensive account of the history of Islamic science from the time of its birth to its post-seventeenth century encounters with modern Western science, particularly as experienced by Ottoman science. It does so not simply by presenting it as a chapter or episode in the history of Western science but rather as a science with its own goals and characteristics as seen from within Islamic civilization. The course treats not only the leading makers of Islamic science over the centuries with their respective contributions to scientific ideas, practices and institutions, but also the creative interplay of scientific and non-scientific (religious, intellectual, political, socio-cultural) factors that had influenced and shaped the historical development of Islamic science. Furthermore, the course seeks to understand the kind of minds that had been responsible for the creation of Islamic science. With this in view, several works of prominent and influential philosophers (including al-Kindi, al-Khwarazmi, al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, al-Biruni, and ibn al-Haytham) have been selected for reading and analysis in class.

Learning Outcome

1. A better appreciation of the vast scope of Muslim scientific activities and contributions to the advancement of knowledge in their history

2. A better appreciation of the continued relevance of Islamic science to Muslim intellectual and scientific life in the contemporary world

3. An understanding of the history of Islamic science as seen from within Islamic civilization rather than just viewing it from the Western-centric perspective of intellectual and scientific history

Weekly Lecture Topics and Readings

Lecture 1 Introduction: Philosophical and methodological approaches to the study of history of science, implications for the study and teaching of science in Islamic civilization. The meaning of Islamic science: science as cultivated in Islamic civilization. Why science as understood in Islamic intellectual tradition is far more comprehensive than modern science: prevailing views in classical Islam of reality, knowledge and its methods of acquisition.

Readings:

Lecture notes

Lecture 2 The Quranic roots of Islamic science: the religious sciences as the foundation of Islamic science. The religious origin of the Muslim scientific spirit: the concern with classifications of things, rational interpretations and various kinds of proofs, logical thought and emphasis on observation and empirical data in the early religious sciences. The birth of the distinctively Islamic sciences of the transmitted type (al-‘ulum al-naqliyyah) as the basis for the development of Islamic science

Readings:

Osman Bakar, 1999. The History and Philosophy of Islamic Science. Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society. Chapter 1

S.

H. Nasr, 1968. Science and Civilization in Islam. Cambridge: Harvard University Press

S.

H. Nasr, 1976. Islamic Science: an Illustrated Study. London: World of Islam Festival Publishing

Company Ltd. Chapter 1

Lecture 3 The external origins of Islamic science: the translations into Arabic of pre-Islamic scientific and philosophical works from major civilizations, particularly the Greek, Persian, and Indian civilizations. The significance of the Muslim translation movement: the role of non-Muslim translators and scientists in the development of Islamic science, the birth and growth of scientific institutions, and the laying of a new philosophical foundation systematized by Islam for Islamic science.

Readings:

A. I. Sabra, 1994. Optics, Astronomy and Logic: Studies in Arabic Science and Philosophy. Aldershot:

Variorum. Chapter ‘The Appropriation and Subsequent Naturalization of Greek Science in Medieval Islam’ Jan P. Hogendijk and A. I. Sabra, 2003. The Enterprise of Science in Islam: New Perspectives. Cambridge:

MIT Press George Saliba, ‘Translation and Translators’ in Joseph Strayer, ed., 1989. Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Charles Scribner’s Sons Richard Walzer, 1962. From Greek to Arabic. Oxford: Bruno Cassirer Howard R. Turner, 1997. Science in Medieval Islam. Austin: University of Texas Press

Lecture 4 The Muslim understanding of the world of mathematics: continuity and change. The historical development of Islamic mathematics: historical origin and influences, leading Muslim mathematicians, including al- Khwarazmi, al-Farabi, al-Battani, Ikhwan al-Safa’, al-Biruni, ibn al-Haytham, ‘Umar Khayyam, and Nasir al- Din al-Tusi, and Baha’ al-Din ‘Amili, and their respective contributions. Muslim innovations in mathematical thought and foundations of independent sciences such as algebra, trigonometry, and optics. This lecture concentrates on Muslim achievements in number theory, geometry, and astronomy.

Readings:

Roshdi Rashed, 1994. The Development of Arabic Mathematics: Between Arithmetic and Algebra. Boston:

Kluwer Academic Publishers Roshdi Rashed in collaboration with Regis Morelon, 1996. Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science. London: Routledge. Volume 2

Osman Bakar, 1997. Classifications of Knowledge in Islam. Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society. Chapters on al-Farabi

S. H. Nasr, 1976. Islamic Science. Chapters V & VI

Lecture 5 Muslim intellectual activities and output in mathematics continued: optics, algebra, music, and the engineering sciences insofar as they are considered as branches of mathematics

Readings:

Ibn al-Haytham, trans. A. I. Sabra, 1989. Ibn al-Haytham’s Optics. London: The Warburg Institute

A. I. Sabra, 1994. Optics, Astronomy and Logic. Read parts on optics

Roshdi Rashed and B. Vahabzabeh, 2000. Omar Khayyam the Mathematician. Paris: Bibliotheca Persica Press

Al-Farabi, Ihsa’ al-‘ulum. Section on music Donald R. Hill, 1996. Islamic Science and Engineering. Chicago: Kazi Publications

Lecture 6

Islamic physics: principles of natural philosophy dealing with the nature of time, space, matter and motion according to different intellectual schools. Major figures and ideas, and its historical development: fields treated include mechanics, dynamics, optics (part belonging to physics), science of weights and measures, and simple machines.

Readings:

Osman Bakar, 1999. The History and Philosophy of Islamic Science. Chapter on Ash’arite atomism

S. H. Nasr, 1968. Science and Civilization in Islam.

S.H. Nasr, 1976. Islamic Science. Chapter VII Donald R. Hill, 1992. Islamic Technology: an Illustrated Study. Lanham: UNPUB

Donald Hill, 1974. The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Devices. Dordrecht-Boston Ibn al-Haytham, 1989. Ibn al-Haytham’s Optics. 2 volumes

E. A. Moody, 1951. ‘Galileo and Avempace,’ Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. XII, no. 2, pp. 163-193 and

no. 3, pp. 375-422 Roshdi Rashed and B. Vahabzabeh, 2000. Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science. Volume 2

(Mathematics and Physical Sciences)

Lecture 7 Islamic alchemy and the foundation of chemistry: foundation, major contributors, ideas, historical development and breakthroughs. Al-Razi: the founder of chemistry

Readings Titus Burckhardt, 1967. Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul, trans. W. Stoddart. London

E.

J. Holmyard, 1957. Alchemy. London

S.

H. Nasr, 1968. Science and Civilization in Islam.

S.

H. Nasr, 1976. Islamic Science. Chapter IX

R.

J. Forbes, 1970. A Short History of the Art of Distillation. Leiden

Roshdi Rashed and B. Vahabzabeh, 2000. Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science. Volume 3

(Technology, Alchemy, and Life Sciences)

Lecture 8 Islamic geosciences: geology, geography and geodesy, meteorology, mineralogy, paleontology. Sources, scope, historical development, and achievements: al-Biruni as the greatest Muslim scientist in the field.

Readings Nafis Ahmad, 1947. Muslim Contributions to Geography. Lahore

S.

H. Nasr, 1968. Science and Civilization in Islam

S.

H. Nasr, 1978. An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines

Al-Biruni, 1967. The Determinations of the Coordinates of Cities, trans. Jamil Ali. Beirut Al-Biruni, 1910. Alberuni’s India, trans. E. C. Sachau, vol. I. London

S.

H. Barani, 1932. ‘Muslim researches in geodesy,’ Islamic Culture, vol. 6, pp. 363-369

Z.

Validi Togan, 1937-38. Biruni’s Picture of the World, Memoirs of the Archeological Survey of India, vol.

53, pp. 57-58. Calcutta

F. Krenkow. ‘The Chapter on Pearls in the Book of Precious Stones by al-Biruni,’ Islamic Culture, vol. 15

(1941), pp. 399-421, and vol. 16 (1942), pp. 11-36

Lecture 9 Islamic biological sciences: Muslim perspectives on the meanings of life, the soul as an organizing principle of life. Faculty psychology as an important scientific principle for the life sciences according to the school of philosopher-scientists; botany and zoology as natural history. The focus in this lecture is on botany, its sources, scope, historical development, and its applications in various domains, particularly agriculture and medicine

Readings Osman Bakar, 1999. Classification of Knowledge in Islam

S. H. Nasr, 1968. Science and Civilization in Islam

Roshdi Rashed and B. Vahabzabeh, 2000. Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science. Volume 3 (Technology, Alchemy, and Life Sciences)

Lecture 10 Islamic zoology: foundation, sources, scope, historical development, and applications

Readings Roshdi Rashed and B. Vahabzabeh, 2000. Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science. Volume 3

S.

H. Nasr, 1978. An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines. Boulder: Shambala, revised edition

S.

H. Nasr, 1968. Science and Civilization in Islam

J. de Somogy, 1950. ‘Ad-Damiri’s Hayat al-hayawan: an Arabic Zoological Lexicon,’ Osiris, vol. 9, pp. 33-43

Lecture 11 Islamic medical sciences: foundation, sources, historical development, major figures and their achievements. Ibn Sina: his grand synthesis and influence

Readings Osman Bakar, 1997. The History and Philosophy of Islamic Science. Chapter 6

O. G. Gruner, 1930. A Treatise on the Canon of Medicine: Incorporating a Translation of the First Book. London

G. W. Wickens, ed., 1952. Avicenna: Scientist and Philosopher. London: Luzac

M. Meyerhof, 1935. ‘Thirty-three Clinical Observations by Rhazes (circa 900 AD),’ Isis, vol. 23, pp. 321-356 G. Lewis, 1973. Abulcasis on Surgery and Instruments, A Definitive Edition of the Arabic Text with English Translation and Commentary. London

S.

H. Nasr, 1968. Science and Civilization in Islam

S.

H. Nasr, 1976. Islamic Science. Chapter VIII

Manfred Ullman, 1978. Islamic Medicine. Edinburgh

Lecture 12 Islamic medicine continued: the same readings

Lecture 13 Islamic cognitive sciences: principles of cognitive psychology, cognitive powers and functions of man’s external senses, internal senses (the imaginative faculty), and faculty of intellect-reason. Muslim theories of al-‘aql (intellect-reason): the case of al-Farabi

Readings Osman Bakar, 1999. Classification of Knowledge in Islam. Chapter 2 in particular Osman Bakar, 1997. The History and Philosophy of Islamic Science. Al-Farabi. Treatise on the Intellect, trans. A. Hyman Majid Fakhry, 1987. A History of Islamic Philosophy. New York: Columbia University Press.

Lecture 14 The decline of Islamic science: internal and external factors. Islamic science and its encounter with modern Western science: the Ottoman experience and surviving elements of Islamic science in contemporary Muslim world Readings Ihsanoglu Ekmeleddin, ed., 1992. Transfer of Modern Science and Technology to the Muslim World. Istanbul:

IRCICA Osman Bakar, 1997. The History and Philosophy of Islamic Science. Osman Bakar, 2002. ‘Why the Muslim world lags behind in science.’ Seminar paper