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Culture Forum

  1. Standard member Seitse
    Doug Stanhope
    21 Mar '11 10:11
    The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West
    Toby E. Huff
    Cambridge University Press, 2nd Edition (2003)

    This study examines the long-standing question of why modern
    science arose only in the West and not in the civilizations of Islam
    and China, despite the fact that medieval Islam and China were
    more scientifically advanced. To explain this outcome, Tony E. Huff
    explores the cultural - religious, legal, philosophical, and
    institutional - contexts within which science was practised in Islam,
    China, and the West. He finds in the history of law and the European
    cultural revolution of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries major clues
    as to why the ethos of science arose in the West, permitting the
    breakthrough to modern science that did not occur elsewhere. This
    line of inquiry leads to novel ideas about the centrality of the legal
    concept of corporation, which is unique to the West and gave rise to
    the concepts of neutral space and free inquiry.
  2. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    21 Mar '11 19:26
    Originally posted by Seitse
    [b]The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West
    Toby E. Huff
    Cambridge University Press, 2nd Edition (2003)

    This study examines the long-standing question of why modern
    science arose only in the West and not in the civilizations of Islam
    and China, despite the fact that medieval Islam and China were
    more scientifically advance ...[text shortened]... ich is unique to the West and gave rise to
    the concepts of neutral space and free inquiry.
    [/b]
    The legal concept of corporation had an important part to play in the moving away from mercantilism (nationalistic zero sum games were no longer key to economic decisions) but I fail to see how that was the central turning point that led to the Western scientific revolution. It certainly helped the economic explosion during the industrial revolution but that's far too late. The bulk of the scientific method was already there.

    I think we need to look at the roots of rationalism for the main clues. The obvious starting point would be the Renaissance, I guess.
  3. Standard member DrKF
    incipit parodia
    21 Mar '11 19:28
    This too will pass.

    Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science
    Jim Al-Khalil
    Allen Lane, 2010

    For over 700 years the international language of science was Arabic. In Pathfinders, Jim al-Khalili celebrates the forgotten pioneers who helped shape our understanding of the world.

    All scientists have stood on the shoulders of giants. But most historical accounts today suggest that the achievements of the ancient Greeks were not matched until the European Renaissance in the 16th century, a 1,000-year period dismissed as the Dark Ages. In the ninth-century, however, the Abbasid caliph of Baghdad, Abu Ja'far Abdullah al-Ma'mun, created the greatest centre of learning the world had ever seen, known as Bayt al-Hikma, the House of Wisdom. The scientists and philosophers he brought together sparked a period of extraordinary discovery, in every field imaginable, launching a golden age of Arabic science.

    Few of these scientists, however, are now known in the western world. Abu Rayhan al-Biruni, a polymath who outshines everyone in history except Leonardo da Vinci? The Syrian astronomer Ibn al-Shatir, whose manuscripts would inspire Copernicus’s heliocentric model of the solar system? Or the 13th-century Andalucian physician Ibn al-Nafees, who correctly described blood circulation 400 years before William Harvey? Iraqi Ibn al-Haytham who practised the modern scientific method 700 years before Bacon and Descartes, and founded the field of modern optics before Newton? Or even ninth-century zoologist al-Jahith, who developed a theory of natural selection a thousand years before Darwin?
  4. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    21 Mar '11 19:38
    Originally posted by DrKF
    This too will pass.

    [b]Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science

    Jim Al-Khalil
    Allen Lane, 2010

    For over 700 years the international language of science was Arabic. In Pathfinders, Jim al-Khalili celebrates the forgotten pioneers who helped shape our understanding of the world.

    All scientists have stood on the shoulders of giants. But most hi ...[text shortened]... ologist al-Jahith, who developed a theory of natural selection a thousand years before Darwin?[/b]
    Isn't that the standard view?

    I guess comparing the greatness of researchers and philosophers is a bit silly, but the main point is pretty uncontroversial. Scientific research was much more productive in the Arab World during that period.
  5. Standard member DrKF
    incipit parodia
    21 Mar '11 19:43
    Originally posted by Palynka
    Isn't that the standard view?

    I guess comparing the greatness of researchers and philosophers is a bit silly, but the main point is pretty uncontroversial. Scientific research was much more productive in the Arab World during that period.
    I was feeding Seitse new-found love of history of science...
  6. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    21 Mar '11 19:46
    Originally posted by DrKF
    I was feeding Seitse new-found love of history of science...
    I'd never heard about al-Jahith, though, seems interesting.
  7. Subscriber sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    21 Mar '11 20:48
    Originally posted by DrKF
    This too will pass.

    [b]Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science

    Jim Al-Khalil
    Allen Lane, 2010

    For over 700 years the international language of science was Arabic. In Pathfinders, Jim al-Khalili celebrates the forgotten pioneers who helped shape our understanding of the world.

    All scientists have stood on the shoulders of giants. But most hi ...[text shortened]... ologist al-Jahith, who developed a theory of natural selection a thousand years before Darwin?[/b]
    Nobody doubts the genius of early Islam scholars. The main question is why didn't they run with it like western scientists did hundreds of years later. My guess is they didn't quite put it together to invent calculus and the advent of western telescopes, that all happened in the west, steam engines that revolutionized mining for instance. None of those things happened in early Islam.
  8. Standard member caissad4
    Child of the Novelty
    21 Mar '11 23:24
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Nobody doubts the genius of early Islam scholars. The main question is why didn't they run with it like western scientists did hundreds of years later. My guess is they didn't quite put it together to invent calculus and the advent of western telescopes, that all happened in the west, steam engines that revolutionized mining for instance. None of those things happened in early Islam.
    Islam was one of the most open and questioning of religions until around the 11th to 12th centuries when they began considering that questioning anything concerning Islam or god was heresy.
  9. Standard member Seitse
    Doug Stanhope
    22 Mar '11 08:20
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Nobody doubts the genius of early Islam scholars. The main question is why didn't they run with it like western scientists did hundreds of years later. My guess is they didn't quite put it together to invent calculus and the advent of western telescopes, that all happened in the west, steam engines that revolutionized mining for instance. None of those things happened in early Islam.
    The point of this thread, exactly.

    I am a bit surprised how it has become in Europe such
    a heresy to debate Islam, its history and its merits. It
    is as if everybody would be afraid of being bombed.

    There was a time when questioning, as a system, triggered
    the greatness of Western civilization. Now it has become
    an insult.
  10. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    22 Mar '11 11:47
    Originally posted by Seitse
    The point of this thread, exactly.

    I am a bit surprised how it has become in Europe such
    a heresy to debate Islam, its history and its merits. It
    is as if everybody would be afraid of being bombed.

    There was a time when questioning, as a system, triggered
    the greatness of Western civilization. Now it has become
    an insult.
    What do you think of the author's premise regarding the centrality of the legal concept of corporation?
  11. Standard member Seitse
    Doug Stanhope
    22 Mar '11 12:28 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Palynka
    What do you think of the author's premise regarding the centrality of the legal concept of corporation?
    I would recommend a great book called...

    The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea
    by Micklethwait & Wooldridge (Author)

    ... otherwise:

    Indeed, it is too a far complex phenomena to attribute
    it solely to a legal fiction.
  12. Standard member DrKF
    incipit parodia
    22 Mar '11 18:20
    Originally posted by Seitse
    The point of this thread, exactly.

    I am a bit surprised how it has become in Europe such
    a heresy to debate Islam, its history and its merits. It
    is as if everybody would be afraid of being bombed.

    There was a time when questioning, as a system, triggered
    the greatness of Western civilization. Now it has become
    an insult.
    I think you mistake 'debating Islam' with 'agreeing with your thoughts on Islam'. I suspect you are an angry narcissist.

    Over on debates, as you well know, there are regular debates on Islam, its history and its merits. That people say they find the sort of rhetoric you espouse is tendentious, crudely provocative, reactionary, hate-filled bilge doesn't mean they think debate to be heresy: they are debating (after a fashion; it is RHP Debates, after all). It's not that they're not questioning, it's that they are questioning you and your account.
  13. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    22 Mar '11 19:43
    Originally posted by Seitse
    The point of this thread, exactly.

    I am a bit surprised how it has become in Europe such
    a heresy to debate Islam, its history and its merits. It
    is as if everybody would be afraid of being bombed.

    There was a time when questioning, as a system, triggered
    the greatness of Western civilization. Now it has become
    an insult.
    I don't think anyone could seriously maintain with a straight face for long that Western civilisation is not intrinsically superior -- and by a country mile -- to Islam. But in your zeal to establish this point you have overlooked a minor detail. It's all very well to talk about Western civilisation but let's face it, the only part of it that made any material contribution to scientific progress was that inhabited by Britons. Newtonian mechanics, steam, world exploration, the Industrial Revolution -- you name it, anything worth doing was done first and best by Great Britain. Stolid Germans, emotional Latins, hot-blooded Muslims with their tendency to run amok -- all owe a considerable debt to the Englishman, the only creature on the planet capable of rational thought.
  14. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    22 Mar '11 20:01
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    I don't think anyone could seriously maintain with a straight face for long that Western civilisation is not intrinsically superior -- and by a country mile -- to Islam. But in your zeal to establish this point you have overlooked a minor detail. It's all very well to talk about Western civilisation but let's face it, the only part of it that made any ...[text shortened]... iderable debt to the Englishman, the only creature on the planet capable of rational thought.
    If only we all had stiff upper lips...
  15. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    22 Mar '11 20:16
    Originally posted by Palynka
    If only we all had stiff upper lips...
    By Jove.