Arabic classical traditions in the history of the exact sciences: The case of Ibn al-Haytham⋆
Civilization Studies Program and Department of Philosophy, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
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Accepted: 1 July 2018
Published online: 24 July 2018
This paper examines selected leitmotifs from the Arabic classical traditions in the history of the exact sciences while taking into account their adaptive assimilation and expansion of ancient Greek scientific knowledge within the pre-modern Islamicate intellectual milieu, and the subsequent transmission and reception of the Greco-Arabic sciences within the European mediaeval and Renaissance circles of scholarship. To give a more concrete focus to this thematic orientation I will address the legacy in the science of optics of the 11th century Arab polymath al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham (known in Latin renditions of his name as Alhazen; died ca. 1041 CE), as encompassed primarily in his Kitāb al-manāzir (Book of Optics, De aspectibus or Perspectiva). This opus contained his explications of the nature and comportment of light and direct vision, including studies in catoptrics and dioptrics (respectively, the optical sciences that investigate the mathematical and physical principles of the reflection and refraction of light, along with their associated scientific instruments). This inquiry is situated within the wider epistemic setting of Ibn al-Haytham’s scientific experimental method of controlled testing that is underpinned by an isomorphic composition of geometric modelling with physics in studying natural phenomena.
© Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature, 2018