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Science and Civilization in Islam
Science and Civilization in Islam
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Details:   Science and Civilization in Islam, 
Paperback - 388 pages,
by Seyyid Hossein Nasr.


Description from the publisher :


When Science and Civilization was published originally in 1968 by the Harvard University Press, it was the first work in the English Language to deal with the whole of Islamic Science. Based on the century of scholarship by Western historians of science and Islamicists as well as the scholarship of Muslim scholars, the work sought to present Islamic science not as a chapter in the history of western science, but as an integral aspect of Islamic civilization and the Islamic intellectual traditions.


This book has played and continues to play a humble role in this historic debate. It continues to be taught and studied in many universities in both the Islamic and western world.

 
Extract from the Introduction :

The Principles of Islam : The history of science is often regarded today as the progressive accumulation of techniques and the refinement of quantitative methods in the study of Nature. Such a point of view considers the present conception of science to be the only valid one; it therefore judges the sciences of other civilizations in the light of modern science and evaluates them primarily with respect to their "development" with the passage of time. Our aim in this work, however, is not to examine the Islamic sciences from the point of view of modern science and of this "evolutionistic" conception of history; it is, on the contrary, to present certain aspects of the Islamic sciences as seen from the Islamic point of view.

 
To the Muslim, history is a series of accidents that in no way affect the nontemporal principles of Islam. He is more interested in knowing and "realizing" these principles than in cultivating originality and change as intrinsic virtues. The symbol of Islamic civilization is not a flowing river, but the cube of the Kaaba, the stability of which symbolizes the permanent and immutable character of Islam.

 
Once the spirit of the Islamic revelation had brought into being, out of the heritage of previous civilizations and through its own genius, the civilization whose manifestations may be called distinctly Islamic, the main interest turned away from change and "adaptation." The arts and sciences came to possess instead a stability and a "crystallization" based on the immutability of the principles from which they had issud forth; it is this stability that is too often mistaken in the West today for stagnation and sterility.

 
The arts and sciences in Islam are based on the idea of unity, which is the heart of the Muslim revelation. Just as all genuine Islamic art, whether it be the Alhambra or the Paris Mosque, provides the plastic forms through which one can contemplate the Divine Unity manifesting itself in multiplicity, so do all the sciences that can properly be called Islamic reveal the unity of Nature. One might say that the aim of all the Islamic sciences and, more generally speaking, of all the medieval and ancient cosmological sciences is to show the unity and interrelatedness of all that exists, so that, in contemplating the unity of the cosmos, man may be led to the unity of the Divine Principle, of which the unity of Nature is the image.

 
To understand the Islamic sciences in their essence, therefore, requires an understanding of some of the principles of Islam itself, even though these ideas may be difficult to express in modern terms and strange to readers accustomed to another way of thinking. Yet a statement of these principles is necessary here, insofar as they form the matrix within which the Islamic sciences have meaning, and outside of which any study of them would remain superficial and incomplete.

 
Science and Civilization in Islam has remained unsurpassed as the authoritative statement on this subject. With his characteristic breadth of learning, clarity of exposition and insight, Seyyed Hossein Nasr presents here for the first time a full picture of Islamic science, not as a chapter in the history of Western science, but as an integral aspect of Islamic civilisation and the Islamic intellectual tradition.


By means of an historical presentation, an analysis of its forms, including the use of passages from the writings of many Muslim scientists and philosophers, the author is able to convey not only a sense of the operative context of Islamic science but he also demonstrates its inter-relatedness with the sapiential wisdom on which it is based. An introductory chapter provides the reader with a necessary orientation to the subject according to the principles of Islam, while subsequent chapters survey the whole spectrum of the individual sciences from cosmology, philosophy, theology to alchemy, physics, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine concluding with a chapter on the gnostic tradition. For this edition, Dr Nasr has written a preface surveying the fields covered in the book since its first appearance in 1968, and has provided a supplement that brings the Bibliography up to date.

 

 
         

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This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 14 November, 2012.