Arabic Sciences and Philosophy (Arab Sci Philos)

Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP)

Journal description

This international journal is devoted to the history of the Arabic sciences mathematics and philosophy in the world of Islam between the eighth and the eighteenth centuries in a cross-cultural context. It publishes original studies of the highest standard on the history of these disciplines as well as studies of the inter-relations between Arabic sciences and philosophy on the one hand and Greek Indian Chinese Latin Byzantine Syriac and Hebrew sciences and philosophy on the other hand. Arabic Sciences and Philosophy casts new light on the growth of these disciplines as well as on the social and ideological context in which this growth took place. Articles are published in English French or German with abstracts in French and English. In 2000 there will be an issue dedicated to Avicenna's thought.

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Website Arabic Sciences and Philosophy website
Other titles Arabic sciences and philosophy (Online)
ISSN 0957-4239
OCLC 50515196
Material type Document, Periodical, Internet resource
Document type Internet Resource, Computer File, Journal / Magazine / Newspaper

Publisher details

Cambridge University Press (CUP)

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Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Galen's Technê iatrikê ( Tegni , for short) was translated into Hebrew three times. The first two translations were executed in the Midi, around the year 1199: once from Constantine the African's Latin version, by an anonymous physician who used the pseudonym “Doeg the Edomite”; and a second time from Arabic, by Samuel Ibn Tibbon in Béziers, using as his Vorlage Ḥunayn Ibn Isḥāq's Arabic version ( al-Ṣināʿa al-saġīra ), accompanied by ʿAlī Ibn Riḍwān's commentary. (Samuel Ibn Tibbon's authorship of this translation has been called into doubt, but is reestablished in a paper by Gad Freudenthal in this issue of ASP .) A third translation, again from Latin and including Ibn Riḍwān's commentary, was done by Hillel ben Samuel in Rome, in the late thirteenth century, but is not considered in this paper. We present the Tegni and discuss its history. We then ask why this work was translated into Hebrew twice, at precisely the same time and area. We show that both translators responded to the need of Jewish physicians who read only Hebrew. Doeg's translation was part of his vast project of making the greater part of the Salernitan corpus available in Hebrew. Samuel Ibn Tibbon translated the Tegni with Ibn Riḍwān's commentary both because he was responding to a social need and because he was in the process of switching his profession from physician to translator of philosophic works. Galen's medico-philosophic text was a perfect fit for his intellectual evolution from a philosophically minded physician to a philosopher-scientist.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2016 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: While Averroes’ work is often considered to represent the culmination of the method of Aristotelian demonstration in Arabic philosophy, a short passage of his Long Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics Γ.2 emphasizes the prominence of dialectic and calls for a re-examination of dialectic and demonstration in Averroes’ philosophical works. In this passage Averroes describes dialectic as an acceptable form of philosophy and the dialectician as a kind of scientist. In putting dialectic and demonstration on an equal, or nearly equal footing, Averroes seems to go against his own account of the dialectical and demonstrative classes of people in the Decisive Treatise . Moreover, this interpretation of Metaphysics Γ.2 also contradicts Averroes’ explanation of the same passage in the Middle Commentary on the Metaphysics as well as Aristotle's own description of dialectic throughout the Metaphysics . That is, in the Long Commentary on the Metaphysics , Averroes departs from his earlier views, and describes dialectic as a necessary part of metaphysics, even though the centrality of dialectic argumentation could call into question the entire project of metaphysics and consequently of the sciences whose demonstrations rely on metaphysical ground, i.e. , all sciences. Averroes does not emphasize this view, but its presence is nevertheless unambiguous.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2016 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: Samuel Ibn Tibbon (d. c . 1231) is best known as the translator of Maimonides's Guide of the Perplexed and as the author of the bold and ambitious cosmogonic work of Avicennian inspiration Ma'amar Yiqqawu ha-mayim (A treatise on ‘Let the water gather’; 1231). His authorship (in 1199) of the Arabic-into-Hebrew translation of Galen's Tegni with Ibn Riḍwān's commentary, known as al-Ṣinā ʿ a al-ṣaġīra (= Small Art), is attested by the colophons of two manuscripts, but has recently been denied. The question is not unimportant, because if Ibn Tibbon indeed is the author of this translation then, as Steinschneider observed, ʿAlī Ibn Riḍwān's commentary is the first Arabic-into-Hebrew translation of a work by a Muslim writer. In this article I invalidate the arguments against Ibn Tibbon's authorship of the translation and, on the contrary, I positively show that a systematic consideration of the evidence unambiguously confirms it. The inquiry is notably based on probes into the evolution of Ibn Tibbon's philosophical vocabulary, whose results, it is hoped, will be useful beyond the immediate aim that has triggered them. This article accompanies Gad Freudenthal and Resianne Fontaine, “Philosophy and medicine in Jewish Provence, Anno 1199: Samuel Ibn Tibbon and Doeg the Edomite translating Galen's Tegni ,” published in this issue of ASP , 26 (2016), pp. 1–26.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2016 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: This study examines a number of different answers to the question: where does Avicenna demonstrate the existence of God within the Metaphysics of the Healing ? Many interpreters have contended that there is an argument for God's existence in Metaphysics of the Healing I.6–7. In this study I show that such views are incorrect and that the only argument for God's existence in the Metaphysics of the Healing is found in VIII.1–3. My own interpretation relies upon a careful consideration of the scientific order and first principles of the Metaphysics of the Healing , paying attention to Avicenna's own explicit statements concerning the goals and intentions of different books and chapters, and a close analysis of the structure of the different arguments found in the relevant texts of the Metaphysics of the Healing . I conclude that Avicenna's explicit goal in I.6–7 is to establish the properties that belong to necessary existence and possible existence, which consists, not in a demonstration of God's existence, but in a dialectical treatment of the first principles of metaphysics.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2016 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this paper is to present a comprehensive and systematic study of Avicenna's account of animal self-awareness and cognition. In the first part, I explain how, for Avicenna, in contrast to human self-awareness, animal self-awareness is taken to be indirect, mixed-up ( makhlūṭ ), and an intermittent awareness. In his view, animal self-awareness is provided by the faculty of estimation ( wahm ); hence, in the second part, I explore the cognitive role of the faculty of estimation in animals, and how that relates to self-awareness. The faculty of estimation, according to Avicenna, serves to distinguish one's body and its parts from external objects, and plays a role in connecting the self to its perceptual activities. It follows that animal self-awareness, unlike human self-awareness, is essentially connected to the body. In the third part of the paper, I show that, while Avicenna denies animals awareness of their self-awareness, he explicitly affirms that animals can grasp their individual identity, but, unlike humans, do so incidentally, as part of their perceptual awareness.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2016 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper, I raise the following problem: what propositions have an import in Avicenna's modal logic? Which ones do not? Starting from the assumption that the singular and quantified propositions have an import if they require the existence of their subject's referent(s) to be true, I first discuss the import of the absolute propositions then I analyze the import of the modal propositions by considering Avicenna's definitions and the relations between these propositions. This leads to the following results: Avicenna's general opinion is that the affirmatives, be they assertoric or modal, have an import while the negatives do not. The possible affirmative propositions are given an import both in the externalist and the internalist post-Avicennan readings, provided that the subject is not impossible. However, the theory is not always clear, for the propositions containing ‘sometimes not’ are given an import, together with the negative necessaries containing ‘as long as it is P’, despite their negative character; the necessary affirmative propositions containing ‘as long as it is P’ are given an import, although they do not require it. In addition, Avicenna's analysis of the special assertorics E and O (containing the internal conditions ‘at some times but not always’) and their contradictories is erroneous, which does not help determine their import. But when correctly analyzed, these special E and O do not have an import, while their contradictories – I and A special assertorics respectively – have an import.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2016 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: This paper provides an analysis and translation of a previously edited, but otherwise unstudied work by Miskawayh (d. 1030) entitled On Pleasures and Pains ( Fī al-Laḏḏāt wa-al-ālām ). After a brief orientation regarding the Aristotelian account of pleasure in the Nicomachean Ethics , which is Miskawayh's main source, the theory of pleasure set out in On Pleasures and Pains is compared to the discussion of pleasure in Miskawayh's better known Refinement of Character ( Tahḏīb al-aḫlāq ). Despite considerable harmony between the two texts, their treatments of pleasure differ in that the Refinement accepts, whereas On Pleasures and Pains rejects, the “restoration” theory of pleasure of Plato's Timaeus .
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: The notion of a “World of Images” located somewhere between the immaterial and the material world was a mainstay of eschatological speculation in late medieval Islam. As has been recognised before, the concept was launched by al-Suhrawardī (d. 1191). However, its more properly philosophical underpinnings, in particular the notion of “suspended” images – images which somehow have an objective, rather than just a mental or subjective, status – merit further clarification, which this article attempts to provide. Since the concept of “suspended forms”, while applied to eschatological matters in the last treatise of the Philosophy of Illumination , makes its first appearance in a discussion of mirror vision, I examine in some detail Avicenna's understanding of mirror vision as presented in the Shifāʾ , to which al-Suhrawardī reacts. I then undertake a detailed reconstructive analysis of two paragraphs of the Philosophy of Illumination , paying particular attention to the question of the ontological status of “suspended” or “self-subsistent” images as well as to the idea that mirrors serve, not as loci in which images inhere, but as loci at which they become manifest (singular maẓhar ).
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: In an article published in Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 22 (2012), pp. 217–87, by Gad Freudenthal and Mauro Zonta, “Avicenna among Medieval Jews: the reception of Avicenna's philosophical, scientific and medical writings in Jewish cultures, East and West,” the authors promise to present “a preliminary but comprehensive picture of Avicenna's reception by medieval Jewish cultures.” As such, it seemed to offer the “comprehensive study” referred to as a desideratum by Zonta at the conclusion of his groundbreaking and very important survey, “Avicenna in medieval Jewish philosophy” (2002). Zonta explained that such a future “comprehensive study of the many and different interpretations given to his doctrines by Jewish thinkers would allow us to evaluate the real role played by [Avicenna] in medieval thought.” Surprisingly, the recent article adds little that is new to the previous studies of Zonta and others on the subject, and omits useful information found in them. The main point of the present notes is to try to correct several oversimplifications, questionable assumptions, and misleading statements in the article under consideration. Its purpose is to help readers of the article to attain a fuller and more accurate – although certainly not comprehensive – picture of the reception of Avicenna among medieval Jews.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: This article aims to reconstruct part of Book IV of Galen's lost treatise On Demonstration . This reconstruction is based on testimonies transmitted by Abū Bakr al-Rāzī (d. 925) in the Doubts About Galen , as well as on a source that until now has never been studied, namely the Solution to the Doubts About Galen of Abū al-ʿAlāʾ ibn Zuhr (d. 1131). This paper argues that, in Book IV, Galen maintains that no one can reach any certain conclusion regarding the eternity of the world, and that he consequently criticizes Aristotle's treatment of the subject in On the Heavens . Galen approves only of one of the arguments used by Aristotle in On the Heavens I, 3 (270b12–17), because it is based on empirical evidence. Al-Rāzī focuses on Galen's commentary on this passage. Our hypothesized reconstruction resolves some of the contradictions between the fragments of Book IV that are transmitted in al-Rāzī's report and Philoponus’ Against Proclus On the Eternity of the World . Finally, this article shows that al-Rāzī's interest in this passage from On Demonstration can be explained with reference to his own philosophical-theological goals. As my examination will make clear, al-Rāzī objects to Galen's arguments because he considers that Galen's teleology is based on a framework where the world is eternal (although Galen does not state this view explicitly), and that this framework does not allow Galen to understand that theodicy is prior to both cosmology and biology.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: Ever since the rediscovery of Ibn Khaldūn's Muqaddima in modern times, debates have been ongoing regarding his identity as a scholar: was he a revolutionary thinker in the modern sense of the word, breaking away from classical and medieval modes of thinking, or was he in fact a conservative Muslim scholar who did not venture far from his traditional Muslim horizons? Through a careful examination of the preface to the Muqaddima , this article shows what he thought about the nature of his project and why he thought it necessary. Accordingly, it builds the case that Ibn Khaldūn is indeed a revolutionary – but not in the modern sense of the word – who did not shy away from challenging tradition in order to reform society's moral and political horizons. An examination of the preface alone will not provide a definitive answer to the question of Ibn Khaldūn's radical vs. conservative thought, but it does put his conservatism (apparent and real) in context.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy

  • No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: In his Sphaerica, Menelaus did not prove Proposition III.5 which is particularly important. He only gave an outline of a proof. Once the Sphaerica were translated into Arabic, mathematicians, starting from the end of the 9th century on, took up this proof. That was made possible to Ibn ʿIrāq thanks to the development of spherical geometry. A first paper contained the history of his contribution. Two other mathematicians, from the 13th century - Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī and Ibn Abī Jarrāda - worked out again the proof of the proposition with the help of Menelaus' book and of the new acquisitions of Ibn ʿIrāq. This is the subject of this second paper.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: Galen's On the Elements according to Hippocrates is an important source for physical doctrines circulating in late antiquity. The variety of atomistic doctrines that Galen brings into the discussion, as well as his arguments aimed at refuting them, were closely studied by the early kalām atomists. Of particular interest are the summaries of this text, which seem to have been written many centuries after Galen; some of them are products of early Islamicate culture. In this paper, we present an edition, translation, and study of a hitherto unknown summary, extent in a unique manuscript where it is attributed to Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq. Like the other summaries, it presents a doxography of physical doctrines, not always repeating precisely what Galen says, but rather reflecting the discourse of its period.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: Kalām atomism stood in opposition to the Aristotelian natural philosophy of the falāsifa. In the Physics of the Shifā', Ibn Sīnā undertook a detailed refutation of kalām atomism through several arguments. These arguments elicited a muted response from al-Ghazālī, whose commitment to kalām was minimal at best. A more forceful response seems to have been offered by al-Shahrastānī but its details remain sketchy due to the lack of surviving sources. Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, whose intellectual development went through a phase of commitment to Avicennism and thereby a vigorous endorsement of Ibn Sīnā's anti-atomist arguments followed by a phase of a critical engagement with Avicennism, provides a detailed rebuttal to Ibn Sīnā's arguments in addition to constructing novel arguments in defense of kalām atomism.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: In the Planisphaerium, Ptolemy deals with a method of representing a sphere onto a plane, according to principles which were compatible with the stereographic projection. But this projection will only become a real mathematical concept in the 9th century, when al-Farghānī will demonstrate the fundamental property of this projection. It is only in the 10th century that the first general theory of projections of spheres was worked out by al-Qūhī and Ibn Sahl. This paper addresses the reasons which allow to claim that Ptolemy did not conceive of projection and that this conception was based on the Apollonius' definition of the conical surface.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: In the Planisphaerium, Ptolemy deals with a method of representing a sphere onto a plane, according to principles which were compatible with the stereographic projection. But this projection will only become a real mathematical concept in the 9th century, when al-Farghani will demonstrate the fundamental property of this projection. It is only in the 10th century that the first general theory of projections of spheres was worked out by al-Quhi and Ibn Sahl. This paper addresses the reasons which allow to claim that Ptolemy did not conceive of projection and that this conception was based on the Apollonius' definition of the conical surface.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: In his Sphaerica, Menelaus did not prove Proposition III. 5 which is particularly important. He only gave an outline of a proof. Once the Sphaerica were translated into Arabic, mathematicians, starting from the end of the 9th century on, took up this proof. That was made possible to Ibn. Iraq thanks to the development of spherical geometry. A first paper contained the history of his contribution. Two other mathematicians, from the 13th century - Nasir al-Din al-Tusi and Ibn Abi Jarrada - worked out again the proof of the proposition with the help of Menelaus' book and of the new acquisitions of Ibn. Iraq. This is the subject of this second paper.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
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    ABSTRACT: The extant manuscript tradition of the Kitāb al-Kašf provides evidences of three phases of redaction and revision of the treatise. This study aims to illustrate the relations between the two Arabic versions and the anonymous fourteenth century Hebrew translation, taking into account the additions and modifications that differentiate them. I conclude that the Hebrew translation represents an intermediate stage of reworking, attesting important additions to the text as well as philosophical changes, especially in arguments concerning the creation of the world at the beginning of the treatise. However, it precedes the next revision phase of the text, which leaded to the modifications of the last Arabic version, in the chapters dealing with the thorny questions of divine corporeality and direction. The analysis of additions and arguments in the matter of content, context and reasoning helps to understand the redaction phases' history and the way the treatise was transmitted.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Arabic Sciences and Philosophy