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Descripción de editorial
Aladdin’s Lamp is the fascinating story of how ancient Greek philosophy and science began in the sixth century B.C. and, during the next millennium, spread across the Greco-Roman world, producing the remarkable discoveries and theories of Thales, Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Archimedes, Galen, Ptolemy, and many others. John Freely explains how, as the Dark Ages shrouded Europe, scholars in medieval Baghdad translated the works of these Greek thinkers into Arabic, spreading their ideas throughout the Islamic world from Central Asia to Spain, with many Muslim scientists, most notably Avicenna, Alhazen, and Averroës, adding their own interpretations to the philosophy and science they had inherited. Freely goes on to show how, beginning in the twelfth century, these texts by Islamic scholars were then translated from Arabic into Latin, sparking the emergence of modern science at the dawn of the Renaissance, which climaxed in the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century.
Europe's debt to Islamic scholarship is counted up in this sketchy intellectual history. Freely (Strolling Through Athens), a historian of science, surveys the work of ancient Greek thinkers from Pythagoras through Aristotle and Ptolemy in astronomy, mathematics, physics and medicine. He then recounts how this learning, mostly forgotten in Western Europe during the Dark Ages, was preserved in medieval Islamic capitals, where Arabic translations of Greek scientific texts sparked an intellectual renaissance. Freely contends that Muslim scientists made important advances, but his case falls short with his shallow treatment of their work little more than a compendium of names, dates and translations. The book deepens when it analyzes the impact on European scientists, from the 11th century onward, of Latin translations of Greco-Arabic scientific texts. Ranging from 13th-century Oxford and the University of Paris to the Newtonian revolution, Freely shows how Western science developed in relation to and in controversy with ancient Greek ideas about matter, light, motion and the structure of the heavens. His map of the route from ancient to modern science is informative and intriguing, but it's more of a chronology than a narrative of intellectual history. 33 illus, maps.