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La science arabe et son rôle dans l'évolution scientifique mondiale

Nature volume 145, pages 45 (06 January 1940) | Download Citation



IT is only within the last half-century that systematic investigations have been made into the part played by Islam in the development of science. Earlier estimates of its importance were mainly conjectural and thus variable, religious prejudice tending to depreciation and the principle omne ignotum pro magnifico to exaggeration. One of the first serious attempts to set the inquiry upon a proper basis, by direct reference to original sources, was made by M. P. E. Berthelot, who in 1893 published the Arabic text of certain Muslim alchemical treatises in his "Chimie au Moyen Âge". Other very valuable pioneer work was carried out by E. Wiedemann (on Arabic chemistry and physics), M. Steinschneider (mainly bibliographical), H. Suter (on Muslim mathematicians), E. G. Browne, L. Leclerc and L. Choulant (medicine), and M. J. de Goeje (geography). More recently, Muslim chemistry and mineralogy have been closely studied by J. Ruska, H. E. Stapleton and P. Kraus; medicine (particularly ophthalmology) by M. Meyerhof; mathematics by Salih Zaki of Istanbul; and Muslim philosophic thought in general by Baron Carra de Vaux and De Lacy O'Leary. This list, though representative, includes only a small fraction of the large band of scholars to whom the publication of very numerous Arabic texts—with translations, commentaries, glossaries, notes, and all the other impedimenta of learning— is due. Complementing these labours, and indeed often their condition precedent, are such monumental works of reference as the "Encyclopædia of Islam" (now successfully completed), C. Brockel-mann's "Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur", and G. Sarton's "Introduction to the History of Science".

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