HoST Fall 2011

Week of 10/12-10/13

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No Class on Tuesday, 10/11/11

In the Stevens Universe,

Tuesday is Monday.


Assignment 6

Midterm Exam will be next week, Week 7.

You need to have completed a short and a long essay by week 7. 

If you haven't done any essays, you have to do this one and the next one.

Ibn Tufayl's Story of Hayy



The spontaneous creation of Hayy.

Woodcut cartoon by me.

For Tuesday: Sleep

For Wednesday:

Read these excerpts from The Story of Hayy ibn Yaqzan by Ibn Tufayl (ca. 1105-1185 - from Moorish "Spain").

IbnTufayl-Hayy-Khalidi-CambridgeEd.pdf  [1.1MB]


Remember: The "Necessary Existent" is basically another way to say God in this context.


pp. 99-114 [starts on p. 20 of the PDF]  15pp        


      This story explains how a person can find God by reading the book of nature and exploring the divine within.  I like to call it Radical Medieval Islamic Natural Philosophy for Dummys.  This sort of describes the internal form of jihad, meaning an internal struggle to be good, rather than the external form which is usually described as holy war. This was and is pretty radical stuff as it seems to suggest that the Koran is for the masses, whereas the book of nature, written by God, is the real deal. Similar ideas were floated in Christianity in the 13th and later in the 17th centuries.  This sort of stuff usually runs into a lot of resistance from religious leaders.  We won't read most of it, but I want you to get a taste. 


            Aside: Here is a quote from a literary translation of Genesis: ÒÉand wetness would well from the earth to water all the surface of the soil, then the Lord God fashioned the human, humus from the soil, and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the human became a living creature.Ó  It is interesting to compare this with the creation of Hayy in his perfect mud.


Read over these notes on Averro‘s just to refresh your memory on his ideas.


Look over the whole web site for some additional materials that may help you with this reading.


For Thursday:

Read these excerpts from The Story of Hayy ibn Yaqzan by Ibn Tufayl, from the PDF above.


Remember: The Necessary Existent is basically another way to say God.


pp. 121-122 [Start at bottom of p. 121, "The first thing..."] 2pp

pp. 125-127 [Start at the top of p. 125.] 3pp

pp. 138-140 [Start at middle of p. 138, "Since the animal..."  2pp

pp. 142-153 [Start at bottom of p. 142, "When it came to..."  11pp


Short Essay:  You could...... draw and write: You could draw up (comic book style) both versions of the creation of Hayy or the creations of Hayy compared with the creation of humans in Greek mythology (Promethius) or the Biblical version or some other version that you might be familiar with.  ....or .... you could write about how Hayy uses nature to discover various natural philosophical stuff, or God and compare that with modern ideas... or... Go nuts and do something fun.  Remember, even picture-oriented "essays" need to have some commentary and/or analysis.  If you prefer, you could just write an essay.  If you prefer you could make a movie or update the story of Hayy and make it a modern day story of a boy or girl, raised without humans, who discovers modern scientific ideas.  Or you could go meet Hayy and talk to him... etc.


Long Essay:  Just make it longer and refer to some other "Long Essay" extra material that I have posted throughout the semester. Week 5 has a good selection that would probably be useful for this general topic.  I suggest the Four Humors or the Averro‘s or Avicenna "In Our Time" episodes.  If you do some sort of comic book, you should have extensive smarty-pants commentary to go with it to make this a viable Long Essay.



In addition to the sources mentioned in the description of the long essay, here are a few more...


- You could read pp. 137-166 in this translation of The Story of Hayy ibn Yaqzan.  This extends the story and has the ending where he meets another person.

     Ibn Tufayl. Ibn Tufayl's Hayy ibn Yaqzān. Translated by Lenn Evan Goodman. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1972.  IbnTufail_GoodmanTran1972.100medd-95-166.pdf


-You could also refer to materials from last week's readings, particularly Hyman-Walsh_eds-Islamic-PhilosophyMiddleAges.pdf [15.8MB] and/or the IOT episodes on Avicenna and Averro‘s. See last weeks assignment page.


-Montada- "Philosophy in Andalusia: Ibn Bajja and Ibn Tufayl." [5.1 MB]  [You will have to come up with a proper citation for this.]  You could skip to the section on Ibn Tufayl and just read that to the end.



:::::Words:Daniel's Papers and Notes:Galen to Mondino :Heart Pictures:Galenic_Heart_diagram.jpg

This is roughly the physiology that Hayy discovers.

This is a synthesis of a few physiological theories, but it reflects the general ideas presented in the Ibn Tufail reading. 

Follow the numbered sequence, 1-5, and the arrows.  This is not a circulatory system, this is a one way system –

in one end and out the other.


:::::Ibn Tufayl Project:Hayy-cosmos-diagram.jpg

This is roughly the cosmic layout that Hayy experiences. 

This is an image from Christendom, but it differs very little (if at all) from the some of the ideas floating around medieval Islamic lands.

Numerous Christian, Jewish, and Muslim philosophers were attracted to NeoPlatonic emanation theory, the theory that Hayy appears to be discovering.



From a 13th-century text called Sphere by Sacrobosco. 

This was the basic text describing the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic cosmological system used throughout Europe in the late Middle Ages. 

This woodcut from a 16th-century edition shows the habitable earth.  Notice that north is down.



Here is a more elaborate technical illustration of the 7 zones, also from the 1531 Venice edition of Sphere by Sacrobosco.

I added some color and notes off to the side for clarity.




Khalidi, Muhammad Ali. Medieval Islamic Philosophical Writings.  Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.


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Interesting Sciencey News

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

Computers are starting to think.... sort of....

Lohr-Aiming to Learn as We Do, a Machine Teaches Itself -  NYTimes 10/4/10

Who's philosophy does this type of thinking suggest?



Overbye-Physics Nobel Honors Work on Ultra-Thin Carbon-NYTimes 10/5/10

"[A] sheet of [graphene] stretched over a coffee cup could support the weight of a truck bearing down on a pencil point."



:::HoST:HoST Fall 07 Web:Ass12 Darwin:Class materials:060810-evolution_big.jpg

"Human Beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals." 

Survey said...  True, False, or Unsure?

From Owen's article, below.


Read this story from the NY Times: Chang: Creationism, Minus a Young Earth, Emerges in the Islamic World from Nov. 2, 2009.


Now read this: Owen-Evolution Less Accepted in U.S.  Than Other Western Countries, Study Finds.htm


Review Materials:  Review/6-GalenicHeart-IbnTufayl-Hayy.pdf [6.9 MB]