Ali Qushji | Constructivism at the Birth of the Scientific Revolution: A Study of the Foundations of Ali Qushji's Fifteenth Century Astronomy. [PhD Thesis]

PhD Dissertation7.79 MB
Ali Qushji | Constructivism at the Birth of the Scientific Revolution: A Study of the Foundations of Ali Qushji's Fifteenth Century Astronomy. [PhD Thesis]

Thesis Type:

PhD Thesis

Abstract:

The dissertation explores the conceptual structure and the epistemic foundations of the mathematical and religio-philosophical works of ʿAlā’ al-Dīn ʿAlī Qushjī (d. 1474). Current research suggests that one of Qushjī’s treatises is associated with a specific astronomical model that gave an important impulse to the Scientific Revolution in the early sixteenth century. According to recent historiography of science, it was a particular transformation that contained the critical breakthrough for the mathematical foundation of Earth’s motion. Until 2005, it was thought that Regiomontanus’ (d. 1476) Epitome of Almagest (1496) had supplied this philosophical impetus to Copernicus’ thesis on the motion of the Earth. But in 2005, it was discovered that ʿAlī Qushjī (d. 1474) [Ali Qushji/Kuşçu; علي قوشجي], mathematician, linguist and kalām scholar, had authored an earlier Arabic version of this model. This study unravels the new program of science according to the emerging constructivist project of the Kalām School, which was collated by Qushji and turned into a comprehensive theory of knowledge to serve as a new foundation for astronomy and physical mathematics more generally. This shows how in the fifteenth century, constructivist epistemology had been replacing Aristotelian realism as a foundation for a new mathematical physics. Qushjī’s elucidation on constructive semantics in his linguistic works on ʿilm al-waḍʿ (science of language), as well as his epistemic discussions on mental existence (al-wujūd al-dhinī) in his kalām work, Sharḥ Tajrīd al-Kalām (Elucidations on Scientific Abstraction), facilitate this undertaking. The constructive mathematical revolution brought forward by Arabic astronomy emerges as an original scientific breakthrough against Greek geocentricism and its worldview. It also provides the foundation for a contemporary critique of heliocentricism, which is currently also known to be scientifically untenable. The research opens the way for a better understanding of constructivist epistemology and its foundational historical association with modernity. Kant’s 'Copernican Revolution' of the late eighteenth century was itself an epistemic quest for constructivism as unearthed from the imbedded structure of the earlier revolution in astronomy. This study helps us answer new critical questions about the historical development of constructivist epistemology, its rise and continuity in time and its early conceptual transmission across cultural boundaries between the Middle East and early modern Europe.

Last updated on 09/13/2017