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The Penultimate CuriosityHow Science Swims in the Slipstream of Ultimate Questions$
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Roger Wagner and Andrew Briggs

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198747956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198747956.001.0001

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The Dream of Aristotle

The Dream of Aristotle

(p.133) Chapter Sixteen The Dream of Aristotle
The Penultimate Curiosity

Roger Wagner

Andrew Briggs

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with a brief account of Caliph al-Ma’mun’s encounter with Aristotle in a dream, which explains why books on philosophy and other ancient sciences became plentiful in Baghdad. The discussions then turn to the development of a specialized vocabulary as Arabic became the medium for philosophical and theological debate; al-Kindī, an extraordinary polymath who wrote the first Arabic philosophical text On First Philosophy; Avicenna (born around AD 980), who compiled the multivolume al-Qanun fi’l-tibb—The Canon of Medicine—which systematized all the medical knowledge of the time and remained a standard textbook for the next 700 years; and ibn al-Haytham’s Kitab al-Manazir—The Book of Optics—where he combined the geometrical tradition of Euclid, the medical tradition of Galen, and Aristotle’s idea that light travelled into the eye (the theory of ‘intromission’).

Keywords:   Aristotle, philosophy, Arabic, al-Kindī, Avicenna, ibn al-Haytham

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