# Science and philosophy Flashcards

1
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Explain the Islamic contribution to science

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The Muslim world is thought to have experienced a ‘golden age’ in its early centuries when it was open to translating, and building upon, the works of Ancient Greek and Hindu philosophers and scientists. The Qur’an also encourages Muslims to observe the world for signs, though this may be taken to mean signs of God and the miraculous, or signs which may be interpreted through science.

2
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Explain the science contribution

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 The scientific achievements of Muslim civilisation are incredible and were introduced by the great Muslim empiricists and experimenters such as Al-Battani, Al-Baruni and Ibn Haytham.
 The Muslims also turned maths into the language of science.

3
Q

Explain the maths contribution

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 Al-Khwarizimi invented logarithms and algebra in his book ‘The book of inheritance’. Through this book, 300 years later, the Western world would be introduced to the Zero and adopt the Arabic numerals.
 Abdul Wafa developed trigonometry and spherical geometry, sine and tangent tables, and discovered variations in the moon’s motion.
 Oman Khayyam solved third and fourth-degree equations by intersecting conics- the highest algebraic achievement of modern maths.

4
Q

Explain the astronomy contribution

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 Muslim scientist Al-Battani is considered the greatest Islamic astronomer, who was 24 seconds from today’s accepted value in his calculation of the length of the solar year.
 Al-Baruni’s measurements of specific gravities of various metal and precious stones and of longitude and latitudes of the earth are correct to three decimal places.
 Ibn al-Haytham was a trailblazer in optics. Experimenting with 27 different types of spherical lenses, he discovered the laws of reflections and refraction, explained the apparent increase in the size of the stars near the Zenith, and discovered that the eye don’t send out rays (as Euclid and Ptolemy believed) but reflects them. His ‘optical thesaurus’ is one of the most plagiarised texts in the history of science. Guilty parties include Da Vinci, Kepler and Newton.

5
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Explain the chemistry contribution

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 Jibr ibn Hayyan invented numerous types of laboratory apparatus, introduced distillation for the purification of water, identified numerous alkalis, acids, salts, prepared sulphuric acid caustic soda and nitro-hydrochloric acid for dissolving metals and discovered mercury.
 Abu Bakr Al-Razi divided chemical substances into categories of mineral, vegetable and animal and declared that the functions of the human body were based on complex chemical reactions.
 Al-Majriti proved the principle of chemical conservation of mass- 900 years later Lavoisier took the credit.
 Similar advances were made in botany, zoology and other natural sciences. Al-Jahiz wrote the first comprehensive zoological study: ‘The animals’. Kamal ad-Din ad-Damiri developed the idea of zoological taxonomy in his ‘The life of animals’ book. Abu Bakr al-Baytar produced one the most comprehensive works on veterinary medicine in Kamil as-Sina’atayn.
 In 1121, Al-Khazini’s ‘Book of the Balance of Wisdom’. Apart from a detailed discussion of techniques of measurement and construction of balances, laws of maths, hydrostatics and physics, the book also has a number of theories- a theory of solids, behaviours of levers and one that identifies a universal central force directed towards the centre of the earth. Newton’s apple would fall 566 years later.
 Al-Farghani’s, ‘The elements of astronomy’, which deals mainly with celestial motion, was freely used by Dante in his ‘Vita Nuova’, ‘Convivo’ and ‘The Divine Comedy’.

6
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Explain the medicine contribution

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 The first organised hospital was built for tepers in Damascus by Muslims. Soon afterwards every Muslim city had its own central hospital. Baghdad alone had 60 hospitals. These hospitals were remarkably advanced in design and contained pharmacies, libraries, lecture-rooms for medical students, separate words for men and women, and facilities for out-patients.
 Al-Razi was a famous physician who investigated women’s diseases and established midwifery, wrote on hereditary diseases, eye diseases and gave the first account of smallpox and measles.
 In Ibn Sina’s ‘the Canons of medicine’ he noted that tuberculosis was contagious and described the symptoms and complications of diabetes. He was very interested in the effect of the mind on the body and wrote a great deal on phycology.
 Al-Zahra was a famous manual surgeon who taught how to perform a variety of operations, ‘Al-tasrif’ includes detailed descriptions of over a hundred surgical instruments- many al-Zahra’s own inventions. He also developed dentistry and performed cosmetic operations to correct dental irregularities.

7
Q

Explain Ghazali’s two crises and salvation through Sufism and religious experience

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 Al-Ghazali was an Islamic philosopher and mystic born in Persia (modern day Iran) in 1058 CE. Al-Ghazali is known for having undergone two spiritual crisis, he argued that there is a limit to what one can know on the basis of philosophy and reason. Philosophy is limited and deals with what is finite. In order to truly understand the nature of reality and God, one must have an experience that lies beyond reason. This is known as a mystical experience, and al-Ghazali would embrace the Islamic mysticism known as Sufism. He argued when one stops trying to think about things analytically and instead uses intuition, they are able to attain a vision of the divine.
 Al-Ghazali embraces the traditional belief that God is both omniscient and omnipotent. He explains that as human beings, we have free will. At the same time, since God is all-powerful as well as all-knowing, whatever we choose to do is what he would have wanted us to choose, and he already knows whatever we will choose. In this way, free will and God’s omniscience and omnipotence are not at odds but are two different perspectives on the same reality. Likewise, al-Ghazali believed that we are living in the “best possible world.” He explains the existence of evil in the world in that God is not obligated to do what we would like him to do. God is not responsible to anyone. He does what He believes to be correct at all times.

8
Q

Explain the assessment of the philosophers in al-Munqidh min al-Dalal (Deliverance from Error), III.2 (Al-Ghazali)

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 In his book, ‘Deliverance from Error’, al-Ghazali rejected the philosophical belief that the world is eternal. He does this by explaining that the creation of the world does not mean that God changed His mind because the creation of the world would have always been a part of God’s plan. Creation is merely the unfolding of this unchanging plan.
 Secondly, al-Ghazali rejected the philosophical belief that because of God’s nature as an eternal being, he would only know the “universal” nature of things, rather than their particular features. For example, a man would be known as a man, but not as a particular man. This philosophical belief was based on the idea that since the things of this world are constantly changing, and God does not change, he would therefore only know the things that don’t change (such as man’s nature), and not the particular things that do (such as getting a new job). Similar to his rejection of the philosopher’s argument for why the world could not have been created, al-Ghazali explains that if God knows all, he would have knowledge of all the changes that happen to us even before they’ve occurred. Everything is simply the unfolding of God’s plan.
 And third, he rejected the philosopher’s claim that bodily resurrection is impossible. This philosophical position was based on the belief that since the world is governed by cause and effect, to bring back a body that has already decayed would be contrary to the laws of science. Al-Ghazali explains that since God can do whatever he wants, he can resurrect the dead. Al-Ghazali sees causation as God creating the cause and the effect simultaneously. If he desires to resurrect the dead, just as his plan included the creation of the world, then the nature of causality as we know it could also change in that instance.

9
Q

Explain the argument for the necessity of philosophy according to the Shari’a (Ibn Rushd)

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 Ibn Rushd, better known in the Latin West as Averroes, came to be regarded as the final and most influential Muslim philosopher, especially to those who inherited the tradition of Muslim philosophy in the West. He critically examined the alleged tension between philosophy and religion in the ‘Decisive Treatise’, and he challenged the anti-philosophical sentiments within the Sunni tradition sparked by Al-Ghazzali.
 Ibn Rushd strived to demonstrate that without engaging religion critically and philosophically, deeper meanings of the tradition can be lost, ultimately leading to deviant and incorrect understandings of the divine.
 Ibn Rushd begins with the dispute that Law commands the study of philosophy. Many Quranic verses, such as “Reflect, you have a vision” (59.2) and “they give thought to the creation of heaven and earth” (3:191), command human intellectual reflection upon God and his creation. Since, therefore, such obligation exists in religion, then a person who has the capacity of “natural intelligence” and “religious integrity” must begin to study philosophy.
 If someone else has examined these subjects in the past, the believer should build upon their work, even if they did not share the same religion. For, just as in any subject of study, the creation of knowledge is built successively from one scholar to the next. This does not mean that the ancients’ teachings should be accepted uncritically, but if what is found within their teachings is true, then it should not be rejected because of religion. (Ibn Rushd illustrated this point by citing that when a sacrifice is performed with the prescribed instrument, it does not matter if the owner of the instrument shares the same religion as the one performing the sacrifice.)

10
Q

Explain the refutation of Ghazali’s attack on philosophers three levels of religious knowledge (rhetorical, dialectical, and demonstrative)

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 He spoke of three ways for humans to discover the truth and interpret scripture: the demonstrative, the dialectical and the rhetorical. These, for Ibn Rushd, divide humanity into philosophers, theologians and the common masses. The simple truth is that Islam is the best of all religions, in that, consistent with the goal of Aristotelian ethics, it produces the most happiness, which is comprised of the knowledge of God. As such, one way is appointed to every person, consistent with their natural disposition, so that they can acquire this truth.
 For Ibn Rushd, demonstrative truth cannot conflict with scripture (i.e. Qur’an), since Islam is the ultimate truth and the nature of philosophy is the search for truth. If scripture does conflict with demonstrative truth, such conflict must be only apparent. If philosophy and scripture disagree on the existence of any particular being, scripture should be interpreted allegorically. Ibn Rushd contends that allegorical interpretation of scripture is common among lawyers, theologians and philosophers, and has been long accepted by all Muslims; Muslims only disagree on the extent and propriety of its use. God has given various meanings and interpretations, both apparent and hidden, to numerous scriptures so as to inspire study and to suit diverse intelligence. The early Muslim community, according to Ibn Rushd, affirmed that scripture had both an apparent meaning and an inner meaning.
 Therefore, the theologians and philosophers are not so greatly different, that either should label the other as irreligious. And, like the philosophers, the theologians interpret certain texts allegorically, and such interpretations should not be infallible
 Ibn Rushd opposes Ghazzali’s book ‘Incoherence’ as it hurts the faith of the believers. The same applies to teaching a theologian philosophical interpretations. He criticised Al-Ghazi in his work ‘The Incoherence of the Incoherence’, writing that “to say that philosophers are incoherent is itself to make an incoherent statement.”

11
Q

Science V. Religion

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 Science is a collection of tools and techniques for modelling the natural world and for using models to make predictions. It involves testing falsifiable hypotheses against rigorous observations of either naturally-occurring events or events created in the lab. Finally, it involves writing up findings and submitting them for peer review.
 Religion isn’t a single system. It’s a body of human practices that serve various purposes in various cultures. Most often, it’s used as an ethical systems and a means of becoming closer to God.

12
Q

What are the few fundamental ways that science and religion are different?

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 Religion is often prescriptive (stating rules for living one’s life) while Science never is. People may use Scientific findings for prescriptive ends, but those uses aren’t part of Science.
 Religion often makes claims about the supernatural; Science confines itself to the Natural.
 Science insists on falsifiability; Religion doesn’t.
 Science is based on peer review; Religions are based on personal revelation.

 Science is founded on scepticism, mainly the idea that personal witness can’t be trusted. While it’s impossible to take the witness out of the equation, Science does everything it can to minimize human biases and fallibility in the process of observation. It does this by making severe rules about how one has to observe things and by insisting that third parties confirm all observations. Religions are generally much more trusting of subjective experience.

13
Q

What is the role of scientific learning in the medieval period and its contributions to modern science?

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Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the decline in knowledge of Greek, Christian Western Europe was cut off from an important source of ancient learning. The Middle Ages have very little evidence to support the idea that there was any progress in society during the periods 500 to 1400, and modern scholars regard the Golden Age of Islam as the true centres of knowledge.

14
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What are the scientific ideas raised during the Middle ages?

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 In medieval times, Europeans learned the view of the ancient Greeks that ‘celestial’ matter (basically ‘Space’) in the heavens differed in nature from matter making up the Earth. Today, scientists have concluded that the bulk of cosmic matter is indeed unlike anything is known on Earth, but have been unable to determine just what that cosmic matter is made of. Medieval thinkers similarly debated about the properties of celestial matter — whether it was crystalline and rigid or fluid, for example.
 Medieval scientists (natural philosophers) wondered whether the universe is eternal or had a beginning. Aristotle had argued strongly for eternal. Medieval authors debated that point in light of the Christian creation story. Today physicists generally believe in a Big Bang creation of our universe, but also debate whether the popular theory explaining that event inflation implies a pre-existing universe extending back eternally.

15
Q

What are the religious arguments encouraging the study of science and philosophy

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 For a Muslim, science is a blessing that God has bestowed on mankind. Islam advocates a rational approach. In many verses of the Quran, God advises people to use their intelligence. He emphasizes the need for us to think rationally and scientifically, speaking of, “…those deeply rooted in knowledge…” and “…only people of intelligence pay heed.” (3:7). Another verse advises people to think about the formation of the universe: “…reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth …” (3:191)
 Muslims such as Avicenna, Farabi and Battani were among the leading scientists of the Middle Ages. Avicenna’s book “The Canon of Medicine” (al-Qānūn fī al-Tibb) was used as a textbook in the universities of Montpellier and Louvain until 1650. Battani’s “Zij” was regarded as a most important astronomical text, and his work inspired that of Copernicus. A crater on the moon was even named after him as a mark of respect: “Albategnius.” Al-Khwarizmi’s work “Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing” is regarded as the first work in which the first systematic solution of linear and quadratic equations are presented. The very term “algebra“comes from “al-jabr,” one of the methods for solving quadratic equations in al-Khwarizmi’s book.
 Philosopher argues they connect revelation with reason, knowledge with faith and shows that reason and revelation do not contradict each other, and that religion would be accepted by the pagan when it is illuminated by the light of philosophic wisdom.
 The Kalam Cosmological Argument for the existence of God was developed by Islamic philosophers and is both commended and employed by Christian philosophers today. The cosmological argument, for example, is the argument from creation to a Creator. “It argues a posteriori, from effect to cause, and is based on the principle of causality. This states that every event has a cause, or that everything that begins has a cause. The Kalam (Arabic: ‘eternal’) argument is a horizontal (linear) form of the cosmological argument. The universe is not eternal, so it must have had a Cause. That Cause must be considered God.

16
Q

What is the impact of science and philosophy on religious thought in Islam?

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 Islam instructs man to use his powers of intelligence and observation. Within a few years of the spread of Islam, great civilizations and universities were flourishing. The combination of Eastern and Western ideas, and of new thought with old, brought about great advances in medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography, architecture, art, literature, and history.
 Many crucial systems, such as algebra, the Arabic numerals, and the concept of zero (vital to the advancement of mathematics), were transmitted to medieval Europe from the Muslim world. Sophisticated instruments which were to make possible the European voyages of discovery, such as the astrolabe, the quadrant, and good navigational maps, were also developed by Muslims.
 However, Islamic views on philosophy are controversial- some view it as a way to become closer towards Allah while others believe it’s corrupting our belief in Allah as it encourages us to question our belief.