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The heavens of the sky and the heavens of the heart: the Ottoman cultural context for the introduction of post-Copernican astronomy

  • AVNER BEN-ZAKEN (a1)

Abstract

In 1637 a Frenchman named Noël Duret (Durret) published a book in Paris that referred to the heliocentric Copernican system. In 1660 an Ottoman scholar named Ibrāhīm Efendi al-Zigetvari Tezkireci translated the book into Arabic. For more than three centuries this manuscript was buried in an Ottoman archive in Istanbul until it resurfaced at the beginning of the 1990s. The discovery of the Arabic text has necessitated a re-evaluation of the history of early modern Arabic natural philosophy, one that takes into account the intellectual context of Ibrāhīm Efendi and the overarching trends in the world of Sufi mysticism. These trends were reflected in art, literature, philosophy and natural philosophy. Using philological and cultural clues, as well as Ibrāhīm Efendi's own words, we can attempt deductions about why, how and for what purposes Ibrāhīm Efendi chose Duret's book for his project.

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I would like to thank Theodore Porter, Hossein Ziai, Carlo Ginzburg, Robert Westman, Mary Terrall, Benjamin Elman, Norton Wise, Herbert Davidson and Ahmad Alwisha for the notes and the encouragement. Thanks to Howard Goodman for the notes and the stylish English. Special thanks to the anonymous referees for the illuminating notes. The paper was first presented at the History of Science Colloquium at UCLA.

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The British Journal for the History of Science
  • ISSN: 0007-0874
  • EISSN: 1474-001X
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-for-the-history-of-science
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