iCHSTM 2013 Programme • Version 5.3.6, 27 July 2013 • ONLINE (includes late changes)
Index | Paper sessions timetable | Lunch and evening timetable | Main site
The symposium will be about the theoretical underpinning that the Arab thinkers themselves gave to their science during and after the period of their greatest successes. The giant figure of Ibn Sina (Avicenna, 11th century) dominates this entire period, and most of our invited speakers have chosen to base their contributions on aspects of Ibn Sina’s work.
Two speakers (Dimitri Gutas, K. A. C. Mentri) will address Ibn Sina’s views on empiricism and the logic of scientific discovery. Ibn Sina had a highly articulate view of how we come to new knowledge by reflection on the information that reaches us through our senses. More recent ideas of experiment and abstraction reflect his influence. At the same time Ibn Sina was concerned to describe the logical structure of the sciences.
Two speakers (Riccardo Strobino, Otman El Mernissi) will study aspects of Ibn Sina’s view of logic. One central question here is the place of logic within the structure of deductive sciences as a whole. Ibn Sina’s views on this, which El Mernissi will set out, are interesting to compare with his later western counterparts such as Bolzano, though lines of influence from him to the later scholars are hard to trace. Another central question is what he understood logical consequence to be; his views on this continued to be discussed in Arabic logic right up to the 18th century, as Strobino will explain.
Other speakers will examine Ibn Sina’s contributions in particular areas of science. Hassan Tahiri will discuss Ibn Sina’s work in the foundations of arithmetic, and compare it with related work of 19th century mathematicians and philosophers. Methodology was a major concern of Ibn Sina’s, and Ahmad Hasnaoui will illustrate this by showing how Ibn Sina reshaped and in part rejected the methods of physics that Aristotle had originally proposed, and how this reshaping rested on an epistemological project. Wilfrid Hodges will show that Ibn Sina taught his students an almost precisely specified proof search algorithm, many centuries earlier than any other similar known algorithms.
Finally Khaled El-Rouayheb will review developments in logic and scientific methodology during the Ottoman period. This period saw a dramatic increase of interest in a science of ‘verification’, which traces back less to Avicenna and more to early Islamic juridical debates with their concern for evaluating testimonies and opinions.