The 'Arabick' Interest of the Natural Philosophers in Seventeenth-Century England

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G. A. Russell
BRILL, 1994 - History - 320 pages
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The medieval concern with Arabic is well established. There was, however, a 'second wave' of Arabic interest in seventeenth-century Europe, which is not widely known. The essays in this volume reveal that, contrary to all expectation, the study of Arabic was pursued by a circle of natural philosophers, philologists and theologians in England in close contact with those on the Continent. Arabic was defended as an aid to biblical exegesis and as the key to a 'treasure house' of ancient knowledge. It led to the founding of Arabic chairs at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, endowed by archbishops and merchants. Arabic was taught, along with Hebrew, at Westminster school. Immense collections of Arabic manuscripts were acquired both privately and by libraries, such as the Bodleian at Oxford. They were sought after by natural philosophers in their research in observational astronomy or in the reconstruction of Greek mathematics. Arabic was also part of the Anglican interest in Eastern Churches. In addition to the earlier elegant editions of the Medici Press at Rome, bi-lingual texts, grammars, lexicons, and histories, were published by trained Arabists. Forgeries emerged based on Arabo-Latin alchemical texts. Arabic was included in the concern with a universal philosophical language. Arabic subjects featured extensively in the correspondence of the Royal Society. The impact of translated texts extended to the Quakers as well as to individual figures, such as Locke. In short, at a time when least expected, Arabic interest permeated all levels of English society, encompassing subjects which ranged from science, religion, and medicine, to typography and importing garden plants. Fourteenhistorians from different disciplines examine the extent and sources of this phenomenon. Arabic interest is shown to have been a significant aspect of the rise of Protestant intellectual tradition. It was also a major component of University reforms and of secular academic scholarship at Oxford and Cambridge. Thus the period also marks the institutionalisation of Arabic studies. By identifying many unexpected 'Arabick' strands in the complex skein of seventeenth-century English concerns, this volume opens new lines of investigation and challenges some of the accepted historical interpretations of the period.
 

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Contents

Background to Arabic Studies in SeventeenthCentury
20
The English Interest in the ArabicSpeaking Christians
30
Arabists and Linguists in SeventeenthCentury England
54
Edmund Castell and His Lexicon Heptaglotton 1669
70
The Arabic inscription included on Edmund Castells own monument
73
The Medici Oriental Press Rome 15841614 and the Impact
88
The firman of Sultan Murad III issued at Istanbul in AH 996
99
The Origins and Motives for
109
English Orientalists and Mathematical Astronomy
158
Pocockes John
224
The title page of the Philosophus autodidactus 1671
225
A portrait of John Locke d 1704 engraved by H Robinson from
235
A portrait of Dr Edward Pococke d 1699
241
English Medical Writers and their Interest in Classical Arabic
266
The Case of the Summa perfectionis
278
Coronary Rowers and their Arabick Background
297

The Seventeenth
128
Arabick Learning in the Correspondence of
147

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About the author (1994)

G.A. Russell, Ph.D. (1962) in Comparative Studies and History and Philosophy of Science is Associate Professor in History of Medicine in the Health Science Center at Texas A&M University and Research Associate at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London. She has published on the early history of vision, and psychology. At present she is working on John Locke and Ibn Tufayl's "h ayy ibn Yaqz n"; and the diffusion of the translations of the Arabic text in Europe.

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