HoST Fall 2011

Week of 10/4-10/6

Back to HoST Fall 2011 Syllabus

Email me: host@mifami.org


Assignment 5

Islamic Natural Philosophy I:

Plato, Aristotle, and God

:::::Words: Works-Author-Editor-BUed:Ibn Tufayl:Primary or translations of primary:Class materials and Kocache Trans:MoorishSpain folder:Cordoba:Cordoba_moschee_innen1.jpg

Cordoba, Spain, was possibly the largest and most sophisticated city in the world in the 10th and 11th centuries

and the largest in Europe for most of the Middle Ages.  The main mosque, Aljama Mosque (interior shown above),

 now known as the Mezquita, was once the second or third largest in the world.

Construction started in 784  A.D. and continued until 987.

Islamic, Jewish, and Christian scholars could give lectures to students in places such as this.


Updated: 10/17/11 11:35 AM

REFRESH ME


For Tuesday

 

1- Read pp. 103-115  in McClellan and Dorn. ca. 10pp

 

2-Read this short overview on the citation that we did as homework on the Fortean Times article on Clever Canines.  

ForteanTimesCitation.htm

Several of you did a nice job digging into this citation, but many of you just gave a superficial citation and review of this source.

 

3-Look over this entire page.


 

For Wednesday

 

1- Read the following section from Hyman and Walsh: Hyman-Walsh_eds-Islamic-PhilosophyMiddleAges.pdf [15.8MB]  ---sorry for the huge file--- This is the real stuff.  It's hard to understand.  Pay close attention to the "flying man" argument.  Believe it or not, this stuff is a bit easier to read than the Christian literature that it influenced (Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus... et al.)

-pp. 233-236 on Avicenna (ibn Sina) (980-1037 AD).  [Also look over the rest of the chapter on Avicenna.  Read the headings and whatever else interests you.]

 

2- Listen to this episode of In Our Times on the topic of Muslim Spain. IOT_ Muslim Spain.mp3.  Take notes on this.  Here is the BBC web site for this episode.  It gives the names of the guests and other details that might be useful.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00548l1

 


For Thursday

 

1- Read Book III in Lucretius' On the Nature of the Universe.



Citations for the above readings and audio:

 

Hyman, Arthur, and James J. Walsh. Philosophy in the Middle Ages; the Christian, Islamic, and Jewish traditions. New York,: Harper & Row, 1967.

 

Lucretius Carus, Titus, R. E. Latham, and John Godwin. On the Nature of the Universe. Translated by R. E. Latham and with Introduction and Notes by John Godwin. Penguin Classics. New York: Penguin Books, 1994. [Your copy may differ from this.  Cite your copy.]

 

McClellan, James E., and Harold Dorn. Science and Technology in World History : An Introduction. Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, Date depends on your copy. [Your copy may differ from this.  Cite your copy.]

 

In Our Time... figure out your own citation to this.

 


Short or Long Essay assignment

[Remember, you need to do two of these (a long and a short) by midterm.]

It's always good to draw upon previous assignments too.

 

Short Essay: Drawing on the readings and other activities from this week and/or last week, write up a short essay.  Tell me something new.  Cite everything.

 

Long Essay: Same idea but also using an additional source from below or one that you have me approve.

 

Additional materials for Long Essay:

 

Hardie-LucretiusLatinLit.pdf-4.7MB

 

Hankinson-StoicMedicine-Cambridge-376KB.pdf- Galenic theory, pneuma/spririts, soul... etc.

 

Hill_HistoryEngineering-waterrising-6.7MB.pdf- This would be a good source if you want to work on the water wheel shown below. 

 

Hill-HistoryOfEngineering-Bridges-Roads-8.5MB.pdf- This has material on Roman roads, bridges, and general construction.

 

Humphrey_ed.-Greek-RomanTech-Excerpts-ConstructionTransportationHemp-15.8MB.pdf - all sorts of engineering issues..

 

Macaulay_ExcerptsCittaRomana-2.5MB.pdf -not enough for a source for a long essay, but some good pictures that you could use in conjunction with another source.

 

Vitruvius-excerpts-construction-6.MB.pdf - mostly on masonry, but a few more things thrown in for good measure....

 

Here is a source on Peutinger's Map.  Gautier-Dalche-The_Medieval_and_Renaissance_Transmission_of_the_Tabula_for_the_Peutinger.pdf

 

Plutarch_s_Morals-5-AntiEpicurus.pdf-1.6MB- This section is an attack on somebody named Colotes, who was a proponent of Epicurus (and thus this is an indirect attack on Lucretius). Don't feel like you need to read the entire section, but start on p. 338 so that you can pick up on how it is being written, then skip around if you want to.

 

IOT_ Averroes.mp3- BBC.  Audio.  More information on Averroes.

 

IOT_ Avicenna.mp3- BBC.  Audio.  More informatin on Avicenna.

 

 

- Bragg, Melvyn. Prime Numbers. Audio. London: BBC, 2009.  [45 minutes].  If you use this, and quote from it, be sure to identify the speaker (as best as you can) and identify where in the recording it can be found.  Here is the BBC site for this episode, with an overview and list of guests: link.

Here is the actual audio file: IOT_ Prime Numbers.mp3 [16.8MB]

 


 


Read over the following.... It's part of the assignment.


Averro‘s also known as Ibn Rushd

or "The Commentator" (1126-1198)

 

::::AV:Fine arts:Raphael fl. 1510:School of Athens:Averroes and Pythagoras.jpg

Averroes (upper left) and Pythagoras. 

[Detail from Raphael's School of Athens]

 

C—rdoba was the birthplace of Averro‘s also known as Ibn Rushd (1126-1198).  He lived later than Avicenna, but slightly later than Ibn Tufayl, who we will see in the coming weeks.

 

In Latin texts Averro‘s was simply referred to as ÒThe CommentatorÓ [on Aristotle, .... not to be confused with "The Situation"], but he is much more than just a commentator.  He was very important in the movement that merged Aristotelianism with monotheism, in his case with Islam, and his philosophical arguments were extremely important in the West when they got around to merging Aristotle with Christianity. 

 

He proposed that God thinking of himself is His relationship to the world. [Think about this statement.]  [Now think about it some more.]

 

He considered philosophy to be superior to theology, which he felt relied on metaphor and picturesque language to describe the workings of God. Theology was useful for ordinary, uneducated people, but philosophers were capable of understanding a higher truth. This idea, of course, does not play well with theologians, but it sure was attractive to the sciency types.

 

The main purpose of man is to become like God.  ... to become like God.  Think about this.  How do we become like God?  What do we need to do or think or make to become like God?

 

Read this next part carefully.  Try to make sense of it.

Averro‘s was well aware that the individual person should have an individual soul/form after death.  An individual should remain an individual after death.  He did not want to promote a collective, undifferentiated soul theory as this would go against scripture. He didn't want the souls of dead people to simply join into some undifferentiated mass of soul-stuff. But, according to his reading of Aristotle, it is matter and only matter that gives form individual existence.  Without matter, the forms that give matter its material individuality are undifferentiated universals and cannot exist in plural or as individuals.  Put another way, identical forms without material existence cannot exist as separate forms, they exist as one universal form.  There is only one idea of chair, but there are many examples of material individual chairs.  Take away the individual material chair, and all you are left with is the software for a chair, chair-ness, and there is, according to Aristotle and Averro‘s, only one universal code for chairness.  The problem as Averro‘s saw it, was that the human soul after death was a form without matter and would thus have no individuality, it would just be a universal human form (or the generic software for human).  All souls would be the same– no individuality.  What would eternal life after death be if you were no longer you?  His solution was to claim that individuality was maintained in a very subtle matter, Òthe animal warmth which emanates from the heavenly bodies.Ó*  He suggested that the soul discarded the dead earthly body and informed this celestial stuff, preserving its material individuality which would otherwise be lost upon death.  Using a computer analogy: The software that makes you who you are, after death, leaves your earthly hardware (your body) and lives on in the "cloud."  After death, your you-ness software [not unix software] runs in some sort of cloud-based hardware.  [I cannot help but think that this celestial stuff that the soul inhabited after the death of the terrestrial body is aether/quintessence/5th-element/spiritus-like stuff.] This is confusing metaphysics.  I am confused and I have yet to read anybody who explains it very well or very confidently.  This short description should at least give you the idea that Averro‘s took Aristotle very seriously and that his philosophy is very sophisticated and his attempts to reconcile Greek philosophy with Islam were very influential in Christian Europe.  

 

*See Averro‘s, Averro‘sÕ Tahafut al-Falasifah, trans. A. Kamali, Lahore 1958, p. 357.

 



Now for some technology.

 

image005

This reconstructed undershot water wheel was originally built to pump water up to the CaliphÕs palace. 

This type of pump is technically called a noria.

 

The na'ura (noria) is a very significant machine in the history of engineering. It consists of a large wheel made of timber and provided with paddles. The large-scale use of norias was introduced to Spain by Syrian engineers. An installation similar to that at Hama was in operation at Toledo in the twelfth century.
The Na'ura (Noria) of Albolafia in Cordoba also known as Kulaib, which stands until now, served to elevate the water of the river until the Palace of the Caliphs. Its construction was commissioned by Abd al-Rahman I, and has been reconstructed several times.

The noria was heavily exploited all over Muslim Spain. It was diffused to other parts of Europe, and,É, has shown remarkable powers of survival into modern times. 
[The noria is one of] [f]ive water-raising machines [that] are described in al-Jazari's great book on machines, composed in Diyar Bakr in 1206. É The fifth machine is the most significant. This is a water-driven twin-cylinder pump. The important features embodied in this pump are the double-acting principle, the conversion of rotary into reciprocating motion, and the use of true suction pipes. The hand-driven pumps of classical and Hellenistic times had vertical cylinders which stood directly in the water which entered them through plate-valves in the bottoms of the cylinders on the suction strokes. The pumps could not, therefore, be positioned above the water level. This pump of al-Jazari could be considered as the origin of the suction pump. The assumption that Taccola (c. 1450) was the first to describe a suction pump is not substantiated. The only explanation for the sudden appearance of the suction pump in the writings of the Renaissance engineers in Europe is that the idea was inherited from Islam [sic.] whose engineers were familiar with piston pumps for a long time throughout the Middle Ages.

 

The na'ura (noria) is a very significant machine in the history of engineering. It consists of a large wheel made of timber and provided with paddles. The large-scale use of norias was introduced to Spain by Syrian engineers. An installation similar to that at Hama was in operation at Toledo in the twelfth century.
The Na'ura (Noria) of Albolafia in Cordoba also known as Kulaib, which stands until now, served to elevate the water of the river until the Palace of the Caliphs. Its construction was commissioned by Abd al-Rahman I, and has been reconstructed several times.

The noria was heavily exploited all over Muslim Spain. It was diffused to other parts of Europe, and,É, has shown remarkable powers of survival into modern times. 
[The noria is one of] [f]ive water-raising machines [that] are described in al-Jazari's great book on machines, composed in Diyar Bakr in 1206. É The fifth machine is the most significant. This is a water-driven twin-cylinder pump. The important features embodied in this pump are the double-acting principle, the conversion of rotary into reciprocating motion, and the use of true suction pipes. The hand-driven pumps of classical and Hellenistic times had vertical cylinders which stood directly in the water which entered them through plate-valves in the bottoms of the cylinders on the suction strokes. The pumps could not, therefore, be positioned above the water level. This pump of al-Jazari could be considered as the origin of the suction pump. The assumption that Taccola (c. 1450) was the first to describe a suction pump is not substantiated. The only explanation for the sudden appearance of the suction pump in the writings of the Renaissance engineers in Europe is that the idea was inherited from Islam [sic.] whose engineers were familiar with piston pumps for a long time throughout the Middle Ages.

 

Largely taken from

D. Hill, Studies in Medieval Islamic Technology (Ashgate: Variorum, 1998), art. V, 179.

image003.jpg

A diagram of a noria-sytle pump with the waterwheel powering it.

   Can you figure out how this works?

This could make for a good essay.....???  Rework this drawing and explain it fully and add some historical information.

 

 



 

Back to HoST Fall 2011 Syllabus

 

 

Email me: host@mifami.org

 


Interesting Sciencey News

–If you run across an interesting story, let me know–

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NASA, via Agence France-Presse - Getty Images

An exploding star known as Type 1a supernova.

The Nobel prize winners used them to measure the expansion of the universe.

Overbye-NobelPrize-Physics-NYT.html- Expanding Universe Theorists get Prize.


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The Kingdom of Slime Mold - Some say that they are in the Kingdom of Fungi, others say they are in a separate Kingdom called [???]. --Type your answer with the first letter capitalized into the password field--

Zimmer-SlimeMolds-AncientAlienSophisticated-NYT.html


 

:::::AV:Fine arts:Ryder:dead_bird.jpg

"Dead Bird" by Albert Pinkham Ryder

 

There was some interest in my screen background.

Here are some Ryder paintings.

RyderPaintings.pdf


Review materials- 5-Mc&D-Avicenna-MuslimSpain.pdf [1.7 MB]