1st Edition

Science in the Medieval Hebrew and Arabic Traditions

ISBN 9780860789529
Published April 7, 2016 by Routledge
372 Pages

USD $150.00

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Book Description

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.

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.

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


'... 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