Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 February 2007
This paper investigates the objections that were raised by the philosopher ‘Abd al-Laṭīf al-Baghdādī (d. ca. 1231 CE) against al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham’s (Alhazen; d. after 1041 CE) geometrisation of place. In this line of enquiry, I contrast the philosophical propositions that were advanced by al-Baghdādī in his tract: Fī al-Radd ‘alā Ibn al-Haytham fī al-makān (A refutation of Ibn al-Haytham’s place), with the geometrical demonstrations that Ibn al-Haytham presented in his groundbreaking treatise: Qawl fī al-Makān (Discourse on place). In examining the particulars of al-Baghdādī’s fragile defence of Aristotle’s definition of topos as delineated in Book IV of the Physics, which was rejected on mathematical grounds by Ibn al-Haytham, a special attention is also given to highlighting the systemic distinctions between the entities that are studied within the speculative physical doctrines of common sense and immediate experience, and the postulated ‘objects’ of scientific and mathematical research.