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30 OCTOBER 2015

Science and Islam: The Islamic Golden Age

"Physicist Jim Al-Khalili travels through Syria, Iran, Tunisia and Spain to tell the story of the great leap in scientific knowledge that took place in the Islamic world between the 8th and 14th centuries. Its legacy is tangible, with terms like algebra, algorithm and alkali all being Arabic in origin and at the very heart of modern science – there would be no modern mathematics or physics without algebra, no computers without algorithms and no chemistry without alkalis.

He discovers how medieval Islamic scholars helped turn the magical and occult practice of alchemy into modern chemistry and argues that these scholars are among the first people to insist that all scientific theories are backed up by careful experimental observation, bringing a rigour to science that didn’t really exist before."

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14th century2009 • 8th century • Abbasid Caliphate • Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali • Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi • Al-Farabi • Al-Khwarizmi • Al-Muallim Al-Thani • algebraalgorithm • alkali • Amira Bennison • Ancient GreekArabic scienceastronomy • Averroes • BaghdadBBC Four • Canon of Medicine • chemistry • early medicine • fundamental research • geometry • George Saliba • Greek culture • Greek geometry • Greek mathematics • history of ideashistory of scholarshiphistory of science • House of Wisdom in Baghdad • Ian Stewart • Ibn Arabi • Ibn Khaldun • Ibn Rushd • Ibn Sina • India • Indian texts • Iran • Islamic design • Islamic geometric design • Islamic Golden Age • Islamic mathematics • Islamic patterns • Islamic science • Islamic world • Jim Al-Khalili • language translation • mathematical elegance • medieval Islamic civilisation • medieval Islamic science • middle ages • Muslim territories • Nader El-Bizri • Okasha El Daly • outward-looking culture • patronage • Persian texts • personal journey • Peter Pormann • pioneering engineering • pioneering mathematics • pioneering science • progressive societyrenaissance • repeated geometrical shapes • science and Islam • Science and Islam (2009) • scientific knowledge • Simon Schaffer • SpainSyriatelevision documentary • Thabit ibn Qurrah • The Sabian • The Translation Movement • trigonometry • TunisiaTurkey

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
20 APRIL 2015

Normal-scientific research is directed to the articulation of those phenomena and theories that the paradigm already supplies

"Mop-ping-up operations are what engage most scientists throughout their careers. They constitute what I am here calling normal science. Closely examined, whether historically or in the contemporary laboratory, that enterprise seems an attempt to force nature into the preformed and relatively inflexible box that the paradigm supplies. No part of the aim of normal science is to call forth new sorts of phenomena; indeed those that will not fit the box are often not seen at all. Nor do scientists normally aim to invent new theories, and they are often intolerant of those invented by others.[1] Instead, normal-scientific research is directed to the articulation of those phenomena and theories that the paradigm already supplies.

Perhaps these are defects. The areas investigated by normal science are, of course, minuscule; the enterprise now under discussion has drastically restricted vision. But those restrictions, born from confidence in a paradigm, turn out to be essential to the development of science. By focusing attention upon a small range of relatively esoteric problems, the paradigm forces scientists to investigate some part of nature in a detail and depth that would otherwise be unimaginable. And normal science possesses a built-in mechanism that ensures the relaxation of the restrictions that bound research whenever the paradigm from which they derive ceases to function effectively. At that point scientists begin to behave differently, and the nature of their research problems changes. In the interim, however, during the period when the paradigm is successful, the profession will have solved problems that its members could scarcely have imagined and would never have undertaken without commitment to the paradigm."

(Thomas Kuhn, 1962, Vol. II, No. 2, p.24)

Thomas S. Kuhn (1962). "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions".

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1962 • accurate predictions • anomalies • ascendant revolution • Bernard Barber • conceptual continuity • development-by-accumulation • episodic model • history of science • history of scientific knowledge • logical positivism • logically determinate procedure • normal science • paradigm • paradigm shiftphilosophy of science • philosophy of scientific knowledge • puzzle-solving • realistic humanism • revolutionary science • science • scientific discovery • scientific knowledgescientific progress • scientific revolutions • sociology of scientific knowledge • Thomas Kuhn • useless science

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
08 NOVEMBER 2013

The struggle for technology: instrumentalism versus culture

"This age–old conflict about social status remains at the heart of present–day struggles over the meanings of technology. On one side, defenders of technicians view technologies as creative expressions of human culture. In this view, technology is imbued with human values and strivings in all their contradictory complexity. I term this position the 'cultural' approach to technology. On the other side are those who see technological action as a narrow form of rationality that seeks only the best means for a given end. For such people, technology is something purely technical, essentially uncreative and devoid of values, subordinate to ends given by others. I call this second position the 'instrumental' conception of technology. ...

the discourse of technology favors the instrumental over the cultural. An entire tradition of philosophical critique is based on a reduction of technology to instrumental rationality. But technological enthusiasts also embrace the instrumental definition of technology. From their perspective, our modern technological civilization represents the embodiment of reason in the world, with new technologies as the vanguard of progress. Technological utopians like Kevin Kelly epitomize this instrumental perspective. In contrast, the cultural understanding of technology recognizes the creativity expressed in everything from steam engines to iPhones. But the cultural approach is definitely in the minority. This view is most common among people like me, historians of technology and other scholars who connect technological choices to specific aspects of culture and society."

(Eric Schatzberg, Rethinking Technology)

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aesthetic creativity • aesthetic sensibility • aristocratic hierarchies • concrete material practices • contradictory complexity • craft skills • creative expression • creativity and craft • cultural concept of technologycultural practicescultural technologycultural understanding of technologyculture and society • Eric Schatzberg • fear of technology • formal knowledge • genius of the individualhuman agencyinstrumental conception of technology • instrumental means • instrumental rationality • instrumentalism • inventive genius • just a tool • Karl Capek • Kevin Kellylate modernitymaterial culture • means to an end • modern technological civilization • new technologies • non-technical qualities • out of controlprogress narrativesscientific knowledgesocial hierarchiessymptomatic determinism • technical elite • technical skill • technician • technological action • technological choices • technological determinism • technological enthusiasts • technological instrumentalismtechnological utopianismtechnology as neutral • technology discourse • technology is a tooltechnology neutralitytechnology transparency • transparent technologies • value ladenvalues

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
06 JANUARY 2013

Science depends on interpretation, community and tradition

"The beacons of the philosophy of science include Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, and Bruno Latour who refute scientism from various angles: arguing that scientific observations are theory and value laden, science takes place within communities, science can be anarchic, etc, all suggesting that science is as dependent on processes of interpretation, community, and tradition as any aspect of the humanities."

(Richard Coyne, 2011)

Excerpted from a letter to the editor, first published in ARQ: Richard Coyne (2011). What's science got to do with it?. Architectural Research Quarterly, 15 , pp 205–206, doi:10.1017/S135913551100073X

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2011anarchic • Architectural Research Quarterly • ARQ • Baruch SpinozaBruno Latour • Chris Argyris • codify • Donald Schon • encyclopaedism • externality • General Systems Theory • GST • Herbert SimonJohn DeweyKarl Popper • letter to the editor • logical positivism • Ludwig von Bertalanffy • optimistic scientism • Paul Feyerabend • Peter Ramus • philosophy of sciencerationalityresearch culturesRichard Coynescience • science communities • science interpretation • scientific knowledgescientific observationsscientific traditionscientismsystematisationsystems theorytechnology as neutralThomas Kuhnvalue ladenVienna Circle

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
06 NOVEMBER 2012

Videolectures: science video lectures open access repository

"VideoLectures.NET is an award–winning free and open access educational video lectures repository. The lectures are given by distinguished scholars and scientists at the most important and prominent events like conferences, summer schools, workshops and science promotional events from many fields of Science. The portal is aimed at promoting science, exchanging ideas and fostering knowledge sharing by providing high quality didactic contents not only to the scientific community but also to the general public. All lectures, accompanying documents, information and links are systematically selected and classified through the editorial process taking into account also users' comments."

(Videolectures.net)

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conferences • distinguished scholars • editorial process • educational video lectures repository • exchanging ideas • free materials • high quality didactic content • Internet portal • Jozef Stefan Institute • knowledge sharinglearning resourceopen accessOpen Educational Resources (OER) • promoting science • sciencescience and technologyscience education • science promotional events • scientific communityscientific insightsscientific knowledgescientific understandingscientists • summer schools • systematically selected and classified • video lecturesvideo repository • Videolectures.net • workshops

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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