Science in the Medieval Hebrew and Arabic Traditions: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Science in the Medieval Hebrew and Arabic Traditions

1st Edition

By Gad Freudenthal


372 pages

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Hardback: 9780860789529
pub: 2005-02-21

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Two major themes run through these studies by Gad Freudenthal: science and philosophy in the medieval Hebrew tradition; and the repercussions of Greek theories of matter in the medieval Arabic and Hebrew scientific traditions. The opening essays offer a sociologically-informed picture of the acceptance or rejection of the sciences among medieval Jews in Southern France. This is followed by studies of individual figures: on Gersonides' thought; on Maimonides' and Gersonides' respective views of astrology; on al-Fârâbî's philosophy of geometry; and two notes (translated from Hebrew) on less well-known thinkers. The second part of the volume is thematic; a study identifying in Anaximander's theory of matter the fountainhead of a long-lasting scientific problématique is followed by five essays on its reverberations in the works of authors as different as Saadia Gaon, Avicenna, Averroes, Shem-Tov Ibn Falaqera and the author of the mystic Sefer ha-maskil. They all sought and gave accounts for the unity and persistence of the cosmos, in which metaphysics often complements physics, some echoing Stoic physics, a topic to which special attention is devoted.


'… this collection is a very impressive piece of learning; and I recommend it to all readers of Aestimatio interested in the history of science in general, and the study of different scientific themes in Medieval Arabic and Jewish sciences in particular.' Aestimatio

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Science in the Medieval Hebrew Tradition: Socio-Cultural Considerations: Science in the medieval Jewish culture of Southern France; Holiness and defilement: the ambivalent perception of philosophy by its opponents in the early 14th century. Maimonides, Gersonides and Some Others: Maimonides' stance on astrology in context: cosmology, physics, medicine, and providence; Levi ben Gershom (Gersonides), 1288-1344; Sauver son âme ou sauver les phénomènes: sotériologie, épistémologie et astronomie chez Gersonide; Levi ben Gershom as a scientist: physics, astrology and eschatology; Sur la partie astronomique du Liwyat Hen de Lévi ben Abraham ben Hayyim; The distinction between two R. Joseph b. Joseph Nahmias - the commentator and the astrologer; Two notes on Sefer Meyashsher 'aqob by Alfonso, alias Abner of Burgos; Al-Fârâbî on the foundations of geometry. Reverberations of Greek Theory of Matter in Arabic and Hebrew: The theory of the opposites and an ordered universe: physics and metaphysics in Anaximander; (Al-)Chemical foundations for cosmological ideas: Ibn Sînâ on the geology of an eternal world; Stoic physics in the writings of R. Saadia Gaon al-Fayyumi and its aftermath in medieval Jewish mysticism; L'Héritage de la physique stoïcienne dans la pensée juive médiévale (Saadia Gaon, les Dévôts rhénans, Sefer ha-Maskil; The medieval astrologization of Aristotle's biology: Averroes on the role of the celestial bodies in the generation of animate bodies; Providence, astrology, and celestial influences on the sublunar world in Shem-Tov Ibn Falaquera's De`ot ha-Filosofim; Index.

About the Author

Gad Freudenthal is Director of Research at the CNRS, Paris, France.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General