“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Arabic Speculative Metaphysics 2

A certain sect of Arabic philosophers, Ar-Razi included, held that time and space were absolutes, but this was widely critiqued as absurd. Such ideas were more widespread in Christendom where Neoplatonism held sway.

I'm beginning to love Arabic philosophers. And I'm sure philosophy and science lost a lot when European scientists ran pell mell from the Middle Ages. It took until 1900 to loosen the grip of absolute time and space in physics. You have to love people who were suspicious of absolute time and space, by dint of nothing but reason.

On the other hand, Ar-Razi discovered measles and used rubbing alcohol as a disinfectant. And discovered kerosene. He died in 925. Can you believe? It puts Europe to shame.

1 comment:

Bill Benzon said...

Don't forget that we got much of our foundational mathematics from the Arabs (algebra & algorithms are Arabic words). Without that math, no scientific revolution. And no tables of logarithms. Without those tables it would have been much harder to send ships around the world as those tables were needed for calculating locations and bearings.